Interdisciplinary design consultancy, BDP has completed the innovative transformation of a school sports hall in Rochdale to create an exciting suite of classrooms, dining and social spaces. The new facility will enable the Watergrove Trust to meet an urgent demand for school places and accommodate more teaching and associate staff jobs for the area.
The ‘WaterSHED’ sports hall redevelopment project at Wardle Academy has transformed a dated hall on the school grounds into a test-bed for new forms of teaching and learning. Retaining and improving the existing structure and using the most natural, sustainable materials, this is a truly sustainable, imaginative re-use of property assets that provides a vital, modern school facility for self-directed learning and cohesive teaching practices.
Mark Moorhouse, CEO from Watergrove Trust, said: “Staff and learners are delighted with the wonderful new space created through the ingenuity of BDP. Light and calming, the WaterSHED is also a great learning resource in itself, as an embodiment of careful thinking about sustainability. The design gives value everyday and on many many levels to the community of the school.”
Using innovative offsite construction techniques and standard material sizes, a multidisciplinary collaborative team from BDP was able to design new spaces into the existing floorspace, creating two flexible classrooms, a design technology studio, and a café area that will also be used for informal learning and events. This central space is animated by the ‘learning steps’ - a processional staircase with integrated seating, leading to a refurbished mezzanine level. This provides further space for dining as well as audience seating for presentations and performances.
Architect Associate at BDP, Jonny Day, explains: “WaterSHED is symbolic of the kind of creative design concepts and construction processes that we have to adopt to reduce our impact on the environment. Not just in education but in every sector.”
“The space was very much a traditional ‘closed off’, dark, drab sports hall before this retrofit. We took a low carbon approach to the expansion of the hall, adding roof lights and natural ventilation to create a bright and comfortable environment. The new windows in the north and south facades allow more natural light in and provide views out to the school grounds. It feels like a great place to be, a great place to learn and really gives all the pupils something to be proud of.”
BDP’s use of locally-sourced natural sheep’s wool insulation, low energy lighting, heating and ventilation systems improves thermal comfort, lowers energy use and reduces operating costs for the school. Furthermore, the project team worked closely with the trust, the students and teachers to utilise donated furniture for the WaterSHED and took great care to minimise and track waste. Students from Wardle Academy also met with architects and project leaders to gather insight into a real-world project.
“Central to our aspiration on this project, and supported by a strong leadership team at the Trust, was a desire to reduce all waste products”, adds Mike Riley, Architect Associate at BDP. “We are also measuring the health and wellbeing effects of using nature-based materials and systems that create good air quality inside the building. At every point, we have reused, recycled or renewed materials and we will continue to monitor the results of our work. We are sure this will prove the effect that good, sustainable design like this can have on health, behaviour and learning.”
The use of low-carbon construction processes to create the WaterSHED also meant that students, apprentices and local people could all get involved in project, creating a groundbreaking space for the school and a new landmark building for the community.WaterSHED opened to students at the beginning of the January term.