DKA | Architects in Bath | Mendip Free School
DKA | Mendip Free School
DKA | Mendip Free School
DKA | Mendip Free School
DKA | Mendip Free School | Reception
DKA | Mendip Free School | Site Plan
DKA | Mendip Free School | 3D Visualisation

Mendip Free School

A calm environment takes the stress out of learning

DKA were appointed by Sir Robert McAlpine as lead designer for The Mendip Free School, a special school serving 120 pupils aged four to nine years with autism, language, and social communication needs, located on the Bath and West Showground in Shepton Mallet.

“ Wrapping the rooms around a central courtyard keeps primary and secondary pupils apart, whilst providing a central focus to unite the school ”
Andy Batty - Senior Architect

Funded by the ESFA through the Free School programme, the project was subject to strict standard specifications, especially environmental criteria, requiring high levels of even daylight and draft free, low energy ventilation. However, the unique nature of a special school is anything but standard, and the accommodation and functional requirements had to be developed from scratch, through close consultation with the school. Of particular concern was developing a school where all ages of pupils could happily coexist by suitable division without losing that ‘one school’ feeling. Wrapping the rooms around a central courtyard keeps primary and secondary pupils apart, whilst providing a central focus to unite the school.

High specification and low budget are difficult to balance. A firm focus on function and efficiency enabled the creation of an attractive simple scheme that is easy and enjoyable to use. The light, spacious classrooms open onto enclosed external teaching spaces with playgrounds and panoramic views over the Somerset countryside beyond, whilst the central courtyard provides an enclosed, sheltered, safe space at the heart of the school. The result is a building we are all proud of that is proving to be a fantastic environment for learning.

DKA | Mendip Free School