The building is designed to have a strong civic presence, with a small pedestrian square framed by the taller roofs of the halls to establish a distinctive place in the new community. The surrounding landscape, designed by Bradley Murphy Design, provides a safe and secure environment and excellent external learning environment. Every classroom has direct access to the outside play areas and sports facilities for the young pupils.
vHH were commissioned by Urban & Civic PLC in 2015 to design the first primary school for their Houlton development, which is a new residential scheme of up to 6200 new homes on the former GPO international radio station at Rugby. One of the key requirements of the brief was that it could be expanded as the community grows. Our design provided one form-of-entry in the first phase, which opened in 2018, including the key communal spaces and facilities, and provided for growth with simple classroom blocks as the school numbers grow to three forms-of-entry. These were designed to be delivered in the future with minimum disruption as pupils needs grew, linked by a covered external walkway.
Due to the successful housebuilding programme and strong growth in pupil numbers at Houlton Secondary School, it soon became apparent that St Gabriel’s would require more capacity, requiring Phase 2 to be delivered in 2021 & 2022 – a two classroom extension of the Phase 1 block and a stand-alone teaching block, delivering six classrooms and some small group rooms.
There are many aspects of the building that are really outstanding and make this a lovely place to work and educate. The comment I hear most is that the school has an incredible sense of space and light. Even on a dull day our classrooms are flooded with natural light, the full height windows, light wells, wide corridors and vision panels all contribute to this. Our children, staff and families are all loving settling in and making use of this fabulous building as they go about the business of learning as a communityAndrew Taylor, Headteacher, St Gabriel’s CofE Primary School