Blackburn's St Silas School plans get Go Ahead

15 October 2010

Planning permission has been granted for an innovative new primary school in Blackburn.

Working on behalf of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s Children’s Services Department, Capita Symonds is providing a range of multidisciplinary services – including architecture, structural engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering, landscaping, cost consultancy, acoustics, project management, fire engineering, planning and transport planning – on the two form, 420 pupil school.

The primary challenge of the scheme was the size of the existing site at just 60 metres by 40 metres. In a bid to provide all classrooms with direct access to a play space, the Capita Symonds team utilised the topography of the site, allowing a three storey solution to be achieved.

The project also comprises a single storey section offering a rooftop play deck whilst the upper floor houses a mini-football pitch. This design allows an additional 800sqm of useable area, 500sq more than is currently provided.

Located within a grid of terraced houses, one mile North West of Blackburn town centre, the site is set within a thriving community which has a large proportion of North Indian and Pakistani population. The school design seeks to involve the local community through the accessibility and flexible plan whilst providing a secure an inspirational environment for the pupils.

The pivotal space in the school - the entrance hall - is focused on a cascade of giant glazed steps, acting as a central gathering space - a simple stopping point in the mornings, a special space for learning, or even a small performance venue.

The cladding system, a series of patterned, mirrored and solid perspex fins, allows the building to appear as a whole mass, whilst exuding a playful mix of transparency and solidity and reflection of the local context when viewed in passing.

The building has been designed for a fast track construction period of approximately 52 weeks and employs the use of modular construction methods on a steel frame with panelised facades.

A major achievement of the project so far is that scheme was designed from initial instruction to a full planning application in just six weeks with full planning permission being granted within 12. A full pattern of client meetings and three public consultation events were held to support the planning application for the scheme which has now been submitted for Building Regulations. 

Capita Symonds has provided acoustics, fire risk engineering and design services using the Autodesk Revit BIM (Building Information Modelling) platform in a multi-disciplinary approach to encourage modern ways of collaborative working. The work will now be taken forward as a case study for Autodesk.