London & South East Premier Construction RIBA Awards

Cornelius Vermuyden shines the way

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Written by Roma Publications

Described as a ‘beacon for learning’, The Cornelius Vermuyden School and Arts College is a brand new, two-story facility in Canvey Island, Essex.

The new school, which comprises approximately 75% new build and a 25% refurbishment of an existing facility, was completed in February 2012, with an official opening taking place in July 2012.

Cornelius Vermuyden School and Arts College caters for 900 students, ranging in age from 11 to 16. The school strives to provide quality education within a supportive, caring and disciplined environment.

Leading architectural design practice, Nicholas Hare Architects provided the design for the new school, with Skanska as the main contractor. Paul Baxter, a partner at Nicholas Hare Architects took time out of his busy schedule to talk to Premier Construction about the project.

Nicholas Hare Architects Partner, Paul Baxter, said:

“The Cornelius Vermuyden School and Arts College project was implemented as part of Wave 4 of the Essex batch of the government’s Building Schools for the Future Programme.

“When we began working on this project the head teacher told us that she wanted a new school which could become a beacon for learning and that’s exactly what we did. We placed the library at the front of the school so everyone can see that learning is very much at the forefront of this particular facility.

“As the school’s specialism is the visual arts, another important aspect of the project was to create exciting opportunities for the pupil’s to display their artworks. We created a two-storey gallery space which has the potential to be opened up for public exhibitions should the opportunity arise.The gallery varies in width along its length, and includes space for the entrance hall, dining area and the display zones.”

Paul added:

“The new school was built from a mix of yellow stock brick, untreated timber and tinted and perforated bronze anodised aluminium. The new building includes a library, a sports hall with associated training facilities, dance spaces, classrooms, break-out spaces and teaching offices. Meanwhile, the refurbished element of the project saw a former 1960s building reworked into a centre for art and technology.”

Construction work began on the project in May 2010. In order to facilitate the works on the site, the project was divided into three phases, to work around existing buildings housed within the site’s footprint.

The first phase was the demolition and erection of the sports hall, whilst the second phase focused on creating teaching areas. The final phase focused on the main hall, the library and ITC spaces and the refurbishment of an existing block. Extensive landscaping completed the project.

Paul said: “It was a complex, phased plan, which always took into account the safety of students and staff.”

Such was the success of the Cornelius Vermuyden School and Arts College project that the site was shortlisted for an accolade at this year’s RIBA Awards. Although the project didn’t take home a prize, its recognition alone was enough for Paul.

Paul commented: “Although the project didn’t win a RIBA Award we were shortlisted and this was a great achievement. There are many thousands of buildings under construction throughout the UK each year, even during difficult times, so to even be shortlisted for an award is fantastic. Winning would have been great, but the nomination was very pleasing.”

Set up in 1977, Nicholas Hare Architects is a leading design practice working on a vast array of projects, from arts and civic schemes through to medical and residential. In addition to The Cornelius Vermuyden School and Arts College, Nicholas Hare Architects has designed many schools and colleges, including Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College in Birmingham, All Saints’ Academy in Cheltenham and Aylesbury Vale Academy in Buckinghamshire.

For more information about Nicholas Hare Architects, please visit:


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