St John Bosco Arts College Liverpool

Loved by teachers, students and OFSTED alike

BDP for Liverpool City Council/Neptune Inpartnerships

GIA: 10,479m²

Contract value: £18m

Client of the Year (Anne Pontifex, St John Bosco Arts College)

From the outside, this building is a startlingly coloured hangar surrounded by nondescript estates – inside, a world apart guided in its intricacy and effectiveness by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable head teacher. St John Bosco Arts College is a state secondary school (not an academy) backed by the local authority, and only very narrowly escaped the well-documented government spending cuts. The architect’s ability to produce a stunning educational environment with a very low budget should not be allowed to escape the notice of politicians who only see economy in terms of traditional corridor-based designs.

  • · Credit: David Barbour
  • · Credit: David Barbour
  • · Credit: David Barbour
  • · Credit: David Barbour
  • · Credit: David Barbour
  • · Credit: David Barbour
  • · Credit: David Barbour

The school is now an educational experience under a single span roof, loved by teachers, students and OFSTED alike. BDP has worked in close collaboration with the teaching staff to produce a kind of circular motion of daily education where there are few physical boundaries, but with calmness and security in well laid out class rooms and specialist areas with integrated fittings and designation by colour. The building neatly incorporates more than 900 designer-style lockers, dance studios that seem to suddenly emerge and an internal ‘hill’ where assemblies, theatre and events take place.

This school is an eye-opener to those who suffered in rows of desks under gothic vaults and those who have visited other institutions with similar architectural intent which did not quite make the grade. All in all, St John Bosco Arts College was an immediate and unanimous choice for an RIBA Regional Award, with Client of the Year going to the head teacher, Anne Pontifex. 

See other winners in the RIBA Regional Awards 2015 – North West