MacEwen longlist: Westgate School

Creating an inclusive identity for children

Hampshire County Council Architects

Location: Winchester, Hampshire

Westgate school is the work of Alec Gillies, who sadly died just after it was opened. Alec continued the exceptional work of Sir Colin Stansfield Smith and Hampshire County Council’s Architects Department with Bob Wallbridge; here taking a redundant boarding house and creatively re-modelling and extending it, breathing new life into it. It is an exemplar of re-use, or as Alec would describe a “long life, loose fit” design.

The 1200 place secondary school has been re-modelled around a new central landscaped ‘green’ and the re-organised into lower, middle and upper schools. The new ‘lower school’ is for the primary aged children and looks directly onto the new landscaped areas. The philosophy is for children of all ages to access all areas, creating an inclusive identity where the challenges of transition years between age phases is avoided and, with older children nurturing the younger, fostering a culture in which young learners can flourish.

The old Victorian Rotherly House was retained with the interior scooped out to create a new double height hall and drama studio. New teaching wings are daylit, naturally ventilated and set around a central learning atrium which is one of three shared areas in the scheme.  Common areas help promote greater social cohesion and a better variety and flexibility of teaching spaces.  So all teaching spaces open onto shared spaces and corridors disappear.

The architecture is sympathetic to the vernacular of the surrounding campus and Rotherly House becomes its centre piece. Materials are attractive, durable and sustainably sourced. Hampshire’s in-house multidisciplinary team of architects, landscape and interior designers and engineers have again demonstrated their ability to create an innovative, attractive and holistic school campus. It is a triumph of architecture, displaying a quality of judgment and Hampshire’s ongoing commitment to public architecture for public good.

 

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