Award-winning architect, Howarth Litchfield of Durham (HL), is celebrating the completion of another first school for Northumberland County Council (NCC).
The £6m Morpeth First School, which started on site last autumn, is now complete, with the school opening on time for all pupils at the beginning of the academic year.
Built on the former fire-station site at Loansdean and replacing the 108-year-old Goosehill First School, the new school includes playing fields, a multi-use games area (MUGA) , a main hall, staff room, offices, kitchen, toilets and parking spaces which can also be used by the public for any events which take place in its community space, which is accessible outside of school hours.
The education project for children aged 5 -9 years is one of several in which HL has been involved recently for NCC. The practice has worked on five other educational projects as part of the £52m
reorganisation of schools in the Ponteland area, which saw its team working on schools at Heddon-on-the-Wall, Whalton, Belsay and Stamfordham plus two in Ponteland. This work has now concluded, but such experience put HL in a strong position for picking up this latest scheme, as HL director, Elisa Berry, explains:
“We have a substantial portfolio of education projects and a strong relationship with NCC, so we understand their requirements and their way of working. This made us well placed to handle the Morpeth First School project.
“Working closely with the staff and the professional team to deliver the best possible education environment for the children. We have retained as many of the existing trees on the site as possible to create a dynamic outdoor learning environment for the younger children and maintain the soft, leafy feel to the area. Furthermore, the building itself includes a roof top ‘outdoor classroom’ which creates even more outdoor learning opportunities for the whole school. The library is placed at the front of the school above the main entrance to exemplify the dynamic and inclusive and learning taking place within.
“Internally and externally, we have used an exciting colour palette to help pupils identify with their classrooms. The furniture and interior design connect with the external cladding to create a lively, inspirational environment.
Michael Connelly, project manager for Faithful and Gould, said: “Howarth Litchfield is very experienced in the education sector and their team has shown excellent organisational skills in working with other members of the professional team to help us deliver the scheme well ahead of the new term starting. We are delighted with the end product. The former school was located near to the town centre which left little space for outdoor activities, so this should be a huge and exciting improvement for both children and teaching staff.”
Cllr Wayne Daley, deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services at Northumberland County Council said: “The new Morpeth First School is a lovely building with light and bright learning spaces and fantastic outdoor areas for sports, fitness and creative play. We have been extremely pleased with the design of the school – which now complete has taken us a further step towards our aim of providing the highest quality learning environments for all children in Northumberland.”
Other members of the professional team include BAM, building contractor; Billinghurst George, civil and structural engineering; CAD21, services design; and Dan Patterson, landscape architect.