Perry Court Primary School

Holistic learning experience encourages collaboration between year groups

Perry Court E-Act Primary School is currently a high performing school in south Bristol but located in a pair of life expired buildings. The overall site is spacious for the number of pupils but the school buildings themselves are under-sized and are costly to run and maintain. In January 2019, DKA were appointed by Skanska to help redevelop the entire site to provide a new high-quality three form entry (3FE) primary school with a nursery. DKA are the architect and lead designer.

“ The building is designed to be highly energy efficient; the ventilation is to be largely natural supplemented by units which extract air from the classrooms and mix it with incoming air to provide tempered fresh air ”
Sam Perry - Architect

The aspiration for the project is driven by the ethos of the school which is to combine the infants and juniors into a single building to provide a holistic learning experience which encourages collaboration between year groups. This is particularly important between the Nursery, Reception and Year 1 classes.

The design seeks to construct a completely new school on the southern portion of the existing playing field, maintaining the operation of the existing school during construction, and then demolishing the existing school. The former buildings footprints would be re-landscaped to provide the new playing fields. No site area was earmarked for disposal. Unusually for a school of this size, due to the size and landscape of the site, the entire building is able to be single storey which means that all classrooms have direct access to outside play space, and benefit from a significant amount of natural light.

The site perimeter has been designed to be more permeable to encourage more parents to walk their children to school and to encourage those who do drive, to park in a local car park in order to decrease the pressure on local roads at drop-off and pick-up times. DKA also engaged with a Police Liaison Officer and her advice on site security was addressed in the design of the school. Cycling is to be encouraged for pupils and staff through the provision of more than 80 secure, well-lit cycle spaces and shower facilities within the school building.

The site benefits from a wooded tree-line to the south and west, which provides something of a barrier to the road noise from nearby Oatlands Avenue. This re-arrangement of the site means the school will be located closer to this wooded area which is to become a ‘forest school’ encouraging pupil engagement with the ecology on the site. Additionally, this re-arrangement means that some of the classrooms and the two school halls will benefit from far reaching views across the playing fields. 92 new trees will also be planted to supplement this already wooded site.

The two school halls and the connecting social area will be the key spaces for the new school building; double height volumes with large expanses of curtain walling and internal glazing to create the new heart of the school. These spaces form one end of the spine which links them to the Library, the Head-teacher’s Office, Technology Room and the Staff Room.

The building is designed to be highly energy efficient; the ventilation is to be largely natural supplemented by NVHR (Natural Ventilation Heat Recovery) units which extract air from the classrooms and mix it with incoming air to provide tempered fresh air. A significant portion of the roof is to be covered in photovoltaic panels in order to offset the operational energy use and the building envelope is highly insulated to minimise heat loss.

The project has achieved a planning consent and work is due to start date in Autumn 2020. The hope is to have the majority completed in 2021 with the wider site accessible to pupils from Spring 2022. DKA are pleased to add to their portfolio of Bristol Schools designs with Skanska and Bristol City Council and look forward to working towards another successfully delivered project.