Bexhill High School Sussex, English Education Building, Devereux Architects, Secondary England

Bexhill High School, East Sussex

East Sussex Education Building, England, UK – design by Devereux, Architects

12 Apr 2011

Bexhill High School Building in East Sussex

Design: Devereux Architects

A new school by Devereux Architects – Bexhill High School in East Sussex


Devereux Architects has recently completed a new secondary school in East Sussex which is based on Swedish and Danish education models. The dramatic designs of Bexhill High School have replaced traditional classrooms with flexible learning pods, connected to a large central heart space, to facilitate the Head Teacher’s and East Sussex County Council’s progressive vision for delivering a transformational curriculum focused on project based learning.

Bexhill High School Bexhill High School Bexhill High School Bexhill High School
photos : Ed Hill

Bexhill High School is the first BSF scheme in the county with a transformational approach to teaching and learning, similar to the Scandinavian education model promoted by Kunskapsskolan – the concept of flexible, personalised learning for pupils. This concept is supported by large office style, open plan rooms and activity spaces, with a strong emphasis on IT, and where pupils and staff share meals together.

At Bexhill High School the fifteen education pods, which are the largest in the UK at 245 sqm and are equivalent to 3 traditional classrooms, can each accommodate up to 90 students permanently supervised by 5 or 6 teachers. All pods will have dedicated toilets for both students and staff and will include provision for those with disabilities.

Jonathan Harford, Project Director at Devereux Architects, said: “Our design is very relevant in the context of the rising interest in the Swedish Academy model led by Kunskapsskokan. The transformational curriculum brief was developed after the educational client team had visited Scandinavian models. Inspiration also came from the concept of large open plan covered spaces in which a wide range of activities could take place, including learning, eating, playing, performing, meeting and displaying. The Danish school at Hellerup has such a space and this had a fundamental impact on the Head Teacher’s vision for his new school.”

A key feature of the building is the ETFE roof over the heart space which expresses the nature and form of the internal configuration of open plan learning zones arranged around a central, multi-use focus space. Measuring over 1400 sqm, the roof is one of the largest covered spaces in any education building in the UK. The style and design of the building and external areas is suitable for a school of the future which is adaptable, durable and flexible to accommodate the changing learning needs of the school and community.

Sports and drama facilities are located at the front of the building to allow maximum community access during out of hours use. This approach also allows these facilities to continue in use while the rest of the school is closed.

The building will use very little primary energy and meets the government’s 60% carbon reduction target through a strategy of natural ventilation and lighting to virtually every space in combination with biomass boilers for power and heating. Further features include solar panels for hot water, thermal mass for night cooling, rainwater harvesting and 600 sqm of photovoltaic cells to provide free electric primary energy.

An innovative acoustic natural ventilation solution has avoided the need for any mechanical systems within all of the large learning zones and has contributed towards a ‘Very Good’ BREEAM rating. An energy use meter has been set up online to encourage all pupils and staff to monitor the building’s performance in real time on their school laptops.

The project embraces the Government’s ‘Learning through Landscapes’ initiative with each ground floor pod having direct access to individual garden spaces. The generous green areas around the building avoid the traditional setting of many schools that appear ‘marooned’ in grey hard play surfaces.

The project, funded by £33m from the Government’s Building Schools for the Future programme and more than £4m from East Sussex County Council, was given the Government green light in January 2007.

Bexhill High School Bexhill High School Bexhill High School
photos : Ed Hill

Bexhill High School – Building Information

Project title: Bexhill High School
Client: East Sussex County Council
Architect: Devereux Architects
Contractor: Kier
Structural and M&E Engineer: WYG Project value: £33 million

Size: 13,600 sqm
Project start date: 2007
Project completion date: Nov 2010
Sustainability rating: BREEAM Very Good
Procurement route: BSF One School Pathfinder (through the Improvement and Efficiency Southeast (IESE) framework)
Images: Ed Hill
Landscape Architect: Standerwick Land Design
Acoustic Engineer: Hawksmoor
FF&E Consultant: ISIS Concepts
Education Consultant: Prospects

Devereux Architects

Devereux Architects is an award-winning practice providing architectural and urban design services across a range of sectors with major projects in healthcare, education, housing, offices, hotels, manufacturing, and biopharmaceutical. Operating from offices in the UK, Ireland and Poland the practice’s objectives are to provide clients with a value added, professional, proactive service nationally and internationally.
The detailed brief for Bexhill High School was developed by the school (Head Teacher, staff, pupils and governors) in conjunction with East Sussex County Council and educational advisors. Bexhill High School is developing a transformational learning programme for all students, where personalisation of the learning on offer will stimulate, nurture and stretch each student in accordance with their own abilities, interests and needs in accordance with key Government initiatives including ‘Every Child Matters’. The new design will encourage students to develop the skills and attitudes that are identified by the ‘Teaching and Learning in 2020 Review Group’.
A separate Vocational Skills Centre has also been delivered under this ‘SECE’ framework (now IESE) appointment.

Bexhill High School Building images / information received 120411

Devereux Architects

Location: Bexhill, East Sussex, England, UK

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