Christopher Whitehead Language College
Christopher Whitehead Language College and Sixth Form (CWLC) is a co-educational mixed academy of 1,490 students serving the surrounding community on the west side of Worcester City.
With a recent significant increase in pupil intake numbers, the school needs to expand to cope with the increased intake.
One Creative Environments Ltd. (One) was appointed to develop a scheme that addressed this requirement, plus provide a new and much needed multi-functional Performing Arts facility, as existing spaces had become compromised. The carefully considered design also had to aid the process of achieving both public and private funding for the project, as sources of funding were particularly challenging.
The Performing Arts and Multi-functional Building provides a state of the art facility for teaching and will combine music, drama, dance and vocational studies. The building is to be a contemporary hub to the school and give modern facilities in a purpose-built environment that enhances the school curriculum and inspires staff and students. It also provides a facility open to the community and the ability to generate a secondary income, while securing links with the local radio station who will take up permanency in the new building.
One produced a detailed planning and tender package in a short time frame in order to meet funding requirements and obtain robust costs. The main building is a simple structure which looks more sophisticated with the introduction of a secondary cladding system that aided acoustic and insulation building properties.
The building was also designed so that it could be built if necessary, in three phases, thereby ensuring deliverability.
The outstanding feature of the building is the privately funded Bell Tower that will be the first of its type in a state school in the UK and provides a focal point leading people to the centre of the school from two main roads. Inspired by the movement of a ‘ballerina’, ringing is an inclusive activity that combines art, science and exercise. Having this facility at the school will enable the teaching of ‘change ringing’ to continue as a traditional British art and also encourage and engage younger people in the skill whilst helping sustain the art form at the city Cathedral.
A challenging project, flexibility, cost efficiency, sustainability and low maintenance were considered from the outset. Working with an acoustic consultant ensured the bell tower noise could be controlled and adequate soundproofing was achieved.
Finally, the landscape architecture provides a functional and contemporary setting to this unique state of the art building.
Performing Arts may well be an area falling off the curriculum elsewhere, but at CWLC the subject will most certainly be rejuvenated and raise the profile back to where it should be. Encouraging children to speak to an audience, perform and play will not only increase the child’s confidence but also provide them with business skills much sort after by employers later in life.