Alfriston School swimming pool, Buckinghamshire

Simultaneously uplifting and calming

· Credit: Jack Hobhouse

Duggan Morris Architects for Alfriston school

Contract value: £1.8 million

GIA 450m2

Client of the Year

Duggan Morris’ highly geometric folded timber grid shell pool building and ancillary block set into the grounds of this all-girls special school is overtly contemporary but references the existing buildings and, in doing so, ties the building into the existing surroundings. To realise the distinctive roof hovering elegantly above a low level glass window running around the pool, the architect engaged with specialist timber companies and TRADA at an early stage to refine the origami-like form.

  • · Credit: Jack Hobhouse
  • · Credit: Jack Hobhouse
  • · Credit: Jack Hobhouse
  • · Credit: Jack Hobhouse

The interior is simultaneously uplifting and calming, with careful and considered detailing that looks effortless, allowing the big idea of the ribbed structure to enthral. At the same time it takes seriously the need to be accessible – a fundamental part of the brief at this special school.

Despite the need to fundraise for every penny and the temptation to go for an off-the-shelf solution, the client stuck with its architect and a bold vision to create an educational building that is not only fit-for-purpose and a delight for users but contributes to positive learning outcomes: the very embodiment of aspirational – and inspirational – architecture.

See other winners in the RIBA Regional Awards 2015 – South