Specifier Review
Winning outdoor classroom design for Leicestershire school is revealed

Winning outdoor classroom design for Leicestershire school is revealed

A group of Loughborough University students are set to see their ideas brought to life as their outdoor classroom design for a Leicestershire school has been selected to be developed by an architect.

For the past six months, 31 second-year students on the University’s new Architecture course have worked with pupils and teachers from St Bartholomew’s C of E Primary School, in Quorn, to develop designs for the ‘Discovery Zone’ – a new space for teaching and well-being activities that will be situated to the side of the main school building, in a wooded area.

The students worked in groups to develop five designs that considered the physical environment plus the ideas and requirements of the children, teachers, parents, governors and other local stakeholders.

They presented their concepts to a judging panel earlier this year, who were impressed by the quality of the designs.

After much deliberation, the committee selected one idea to take forward and now the winning design has been revealed.

The Hive’, by Efe Anim-Boateng, Molly Cummins, Romy Curtis, Daniel Jordan, Josh Sparks and Justin Wang, delighted judges with its contemporary design approach and creative opportunities for inside and outside learning.

outdoor classroom
The Hive

Nature is at the heart of the design with an external ‘living wall‘, several rectangular and hexagonal feature windows to allow children to learn about the world around them and observe seasonal changes, and a decking area that incorporates an existing tree on the site.

outdoor classroom design
A side view of the design, which shows the living wall.

‌The design reflects the needs of the school and the community and the interior consists of two flexible spaces that can provide for a range of different uses.

‌Natural lighting and ventilation will help reduce energy use and the overall design approach will look to include a range of sustainable technologies and materials.

Commenting on their design being selected, Romy Curtis said: “It’s been an amazing experience, and nice to get here after putting in so much hard work. It’ll be really exciting to see our building come to life.”

Josh Sparks added: “Not many students can say they’re having a building developed from their designs – especially in their second year – so this is brilliant.

“It’s also been great to get input from such young stakeholders as it’s brought back the creativity we lost through growing up.”

Watson Batty Architects, based in Loughborough, has volunteered to help move the project forward and develop The Hive design so a planning application can be placed in the future.

Richard Crowson, Regional Director at the firm, said: “These are second-year students on a brand-new Architecture course that is finding its feet and already they’re creating impressive work.

“We’re excited to be working with the School and the University and we’re really looking forward to helping develop the winning design.”

The pupils from St Bartholomew’s, which is also known as St Bart’s, have followed the development of the designs from the beginning of the project and visited the University at the start of the year to use state-of-the-art technology that allowed them to see their ideas in virtual reality.

Eleven-year-old school pupil Freya said: “It’s been really good fun. I’m leaving this school next year, but I hope one day when I come back to pick up my little sister there’ll be a building that I’ve helped make.”

Nine-year-old Jacob added: “It’s very exciting and it’s made me think about being an architect one day.”

Head Teacher Judith Boston and Assistant Head Teacher Sonya Campbell have overseen the School’s involvement in the project.

They said in a joint statement: “It has been a brilliant project for the School and the whole school community is really thrilled.

“The winning design really links to the outdoor space and we’re excited to see it move forward now. A big thank you to the staff and students for this fantastic journey so far.”

The collaboration between the School and the University was part of a ‘live project module’, which looks to give students a glimpse into a career as an architect and teach them how to assess locations, work with clients and use data to create designs.

Professor Andrew Dainty, Dean of the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, commented: “For our students, the project has enabled them to engage with the end users of a live project, working with them to develop a brief and co-create an inspiring learning space. We look forward to having our students work on other live projects in the future.”

St Bart’s is currently in the process of raising and securing funds for the new learning space.