Contract - Salt and Tong High School Designs Opens Doors to the Future

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Salt and Tong High School Designs Opens Doors to the Future

01 July, 2010


In its own ambitious version of “No Child Left Behind,” the British government launched a massive initiative called Building Schools for the Future (BSF), which presently aims to upgrade every secondary school in the country by replacement or major renovation. The numbers add up to a total of BPS 9.3 billion being spent on some 3,500 schools over the three-year period from 2008 to 2011. According to the United Kingdom’s Partnerships for Schools Web site, “The programme aims to create learning environments that inspire all young people to unlock hidden talents and reach their full potential; provide teachers with 21st-century work places; and provide access to facilities that can be used by all members of the local community.” In short, “The schools need to be transformative,” says David Martin, a principal in the San Francisco office of Anshen+Allen and principal-in-charge of two new BSF program school projects in Bradford, a fairly impoverished area of northern England that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

Tong High School and Titus Salt High School had not been updated since the 1960s, making for what Martin describes as “horrifying” educational environments. In addition to substandard physical space, the two high school populations were dogged by ethnic tensions, gang problems, and bullying issues, making the design challenge as much about addressing emotional needs as it was about accommodating spatial and organizational ones. Further adding to the complexity of the project, Titus Salt High School exists in close proximity to the stone town of Saltaire, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and therefore was subject to numerous size and design restrictions.

In an attempt to transform the secondary school years in Bradford into a collaborative, flexible, and inspirational experience, Anshen+Allen designed both Salt and Tong as groupings of curriculum-based houses that encourage positive interaction between the 9th to 12th grade students, staff, and teachers, and discourage antisocial behavior by emphasizing highly accessible and clearly visible congregation spaces. “This is a different academic concept. We were trying to provide a town square,” explains Martin. The intended result was to create the perception of “smaller academies within a larger community.”

At Tong (1,600 students), the floorplan forms a radial pattern in the shape of a hand: the palm comprises the principal social spaces, eating area, and three-story, light-filled atrium; the fingers are four academic wings that form clearly distinguishable faculties; and the thumb contains the physical education department and the main entrance. In addition, the school has been designed to express its concentration in sports and includes a pool, fitness suite, and climbing wall; multiple pitches for football, hockey, and rugby; a large sports hall and gymnasium; and multiuse game areas.

At Salt (1,500 students), a ribbon-like floorplan dictated by the long, narrow site also features bright and spacious public spaces for socializing and generous teaching spaces for interactive learning. A three-story atrium at the main entrance to the school serves as the heart of the building and is a hub of activity that connects all the other areas. The art department has been housed in a rooftop penthouse suite with abundant daylight and access to an outdoor teaching terrace, transforming the way art is taught. Titus Salt specializes in the arts and also includes two flexible theaters, a green room, state-of-the-art dance studio, and music rooms. Outdoor spaces also were a key focus here; teaching wings surround a series of landscaped courtyards and external teaching spaces.

Both schools were mandated to emphasize community involvement and address the common issues of underuse so atriums, assembly spaces, sports facilities, gymnasiums fitness suite, dance studio, media centers, and performance facilities are all accessible for public use and can operate independently of the buildings without compromising security in the rest of the facilities.

Student security was such a pressing issue in these two schools that the designers actually sought ways to minimize the incidence of aggressive behavior through design. That translated into a maximization of passive supervision with the inclusion of open spaces, large vision panels in classrooms and staff work areas, and the elimination of dark corridors, isolated areas, and threatening bathrooms, which often are a prime location for bullying. In particular, Tong includes a radical new bathroom design that is communal, unisex, and openly located. “When you mix genders, the students tend to behave,” says Martin. The simple provision of a “back door” prevents targeted students from being trapped.

After two academic years in use, the results are speaking for themselves, with students and staff raving. "Anshen+Allen has taken Tong School's strong educational vision and translated it into a fantastic design for a 21st-century educational building,” says Sharon Wright, Bradford BSF stakeholder and director of creative wit at Tong. “The central atrium produces an inspirational space for dining, socializing, and circulation. The curriculum spaces are particularly successful, delivering great visibility and breakout spaces, which lend themselves to an evolving curriculum and greater personalized learning... It is Anshen+Allen's attention to design detail with great toilets, beautiful signage, and good use of graphics that provides the 'delight factor' for the school community."

Sue Mansfield, head of Titus Salt School and BSF Lead, says, "Making our pupils feel valued and respected was one of the most important goals that emerged from the consultation process; this design does just that. Pupils have been delighted with their fresh and bright social spaces; they feel cared about, not second best. In particular, the six formers have commented that the breakout spaces and modern dining and café facilities are more adult—they provide them with an important 'school-to-college' transitional space.

Mansfield continues, “The teaching pods also are extremely successful; our teachers feel that they have been given the very best teaching facilities, which benefit from good light, ample space, and plenty of storage. Faculties have been given their own distinct identities to reflect the particular ethos of each department. You know instantly which faculty you are in from your environment. We all love our school."



Salt and Tong High School Designs Opens Doors to the Future

01 July, 2010


Timothy Soar

In its own ambitious version of “No Child Left Behind,” the British government launched a massive initiative called Building Schools for the Future (BSF), which presently aims to upgrade every secondary school in the country by replacement or major renovation. The numbers add up to a total of BPS 9.3 billion being spent on some 3,500 schools over the three-year period from 2008 to 2011. According to the United Kingdom’s Partnerships for Schools Web site, “The programme aims to create learning environments that inspire all young people to unlock hidden talents and reach their full potential; provide teachers with 21st-century work places; and provide access to facilities that can be used by all members of the local community.” In short, “The schools need to be transformative,” says David Martin, a principal in the San Francisco office of Anshen+Allen and principal-in-charge of two new BSF program school projects in Bradford, a fairly impoverished area of northern England that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

Tong High School and Titus Salt High School had not been updated since the 1960s, making for what Martin describes as “horrifying” educational environments. In addition to substandard physical space, the two high school populations were dogged by ethnic tensions, gang problems, and bullying issues, making the design challenge as much about addressing emotional needs as it was about accommodating spatial and organizational ones. Further adding to the complexity of the project, Titus Salt High School exists in close proximity to the stone town of Saltaire, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and therefore was subject to numerous size and design restrictions.

In an attempt to transform the secondary school years in Bradford into a collaborative, flexible, and inspirational experience, Anshen+Allen designed both Salt and Tong as groupings of curriculum-based houses that encourage positive interaction between the 9th to 12th grade students, staff, and teachers, and discourage antisocial behavior by emphasizing highly accessible and clearly visible congregation spaces. “This is a different academic concept. We were trying to provide a town square,” explains Martin. The intended result was to create the perception of “smaller academies within a larger community.”

At Tong (1,600 students), the floorplan forms a radial pattern in the shape of a hand: the palm comprises the principal social spaces, eating area, and three-story, light-filled atrium; the fingers are four academic wings that form clearly distinguishable faculties; and the thumb contains the physical education department and the main entrance. In addition, the school has been designed to express its concentration in sports and includes a pool, fitness suite, and climbing wall; multiple pitches for football, hockey, and rugby; a large sports hall and gymnasium; and multiuse game areas.

At Salt (1,500 students), a ribbon-like floorplan dictated by the long, narrow site also features bright and spacious public spaces for socializing and generous teaching spaces for interactive learning. A three-story atrium at the main entrance to the school serves as the heart of the building and is a hub of activity that connects all the other areas. The art department has been housed in a rooftop penthouse suite with abundant daylight and access to an outdoor teaching terrace, transforming the way art is taught. Titus Salt specializes in the arts and also includes two flexible theaters, a green room, state-of-the-art dance studio, and music rooms. Outdoor spaces also were a key focus here; teaching wings surround a series of landscaped courtyards and external teaching spaces.

Both schools were mandated to emphasize community involvement and address the common issues of underuse so atriums, assembly spaces, sports facilities, gymnasiums fitness suite, dance studio, media centers, and performance facilities are all accessible for public use and can operate independently of the buildings without compromising security in the rest of the facilities.

Student security was such a pressing issue in these two schools that the designers actually sought ways to minimize the incidence of aggressive behavior through design. That translated into a maximization of passive supervision with the inclusion of open spaces, large vision panels in classrooms and staff work areas, and the elimination of dark corridors, isolated areas, and threatening bathrooms, which often are a prime location for bullying. In particular, Tong includes a radical new bathroom design that is communal, unisex, and openly located. “When you mix genders, the students tend to behave,” says Martin. The simple provision of a “back door” prevents targeted students from being trapped.

After two academic years in use, the results are speaking for themselves, with students and staff raving. "Anshen+Allen has taken Tong School's strong educational vision and translated it into a fantastic design for a 21st-century educational building,” says Sharon Wright, Bradford BSF stakeholder and director of creative wit at Tong. “The central atrium produces an inspirational space for dining, socializing, and circulation. The curriculum spaces are particularly successful, delivering great visibility and breakout spaces, which lend themselves to an evolving curriculum and greater personalized learning... It is Anshen+Allen's attention to design detail with great toilets, beautiful signage, and good use of graphics that provides the 'delight factor' for the school community."

Sue Mansfield, head of Titus Salt School and BSF Lead, says, "Making our pupils feel valued and respected was one of the most important goals that emerged from the consultation process; this design does just that. Pupils have been delighted with their fresh and bright social spaces; they feel cared about, not second best. In particular, the six formers have commented that the breakout spaces and modern dining and café facilities are more adult—they provide them with an important 'school-to-college' transitional space.

Mansfield continues, “The teaching pods also are extremely successful; our teachers feel that they have been given the very best teaching facilities, which benefit from good light, ample space, and plenty of storage. Faculties have been given their own distinct identities to reflect the particular ethos of each department. You know instantly which faculty you are in from your environment. We all love our school."
 


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