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Devereux Architects completes elliptical High school

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[FIRST LOOK + FACTFILE] Monkseaton High School near Whitley Bay, by North East-based practice Devereux Architects, has opened its doors

The ellipse-shaped £22 million building was actually designed by a team at Dewjo’c before the outfit merged with the larger Devereux design practice in April this year.

With its triangular-shaped classrooms, the scheme has been described as a ‘360 degree teaching environment’, which will improve performance levels in the classroom.

Project architect Ian Lancastle-Smith said: ‘After extensive research addressing the headteacher’s aspirations and listening to the teachers and students, we identified that boundaries had to be pushed to meet their requirements.

‘I realised that we had to step away from the rows of desks and ‘chalk-and-talk’ method of lesson delivery associated with typical institutional classroom designs and introduce flexible multi-use spaces loaded with new technology.’

Lancastle-Smith concluded: ‘We created a life-size model of the triangular classrooms in the existing school and test drove it with the teachers and students and assessed their evaluations. Even the sceptics were converted and could see how this space not only enhanced their new way of learning but made it inclusive for all.’

The scheme also drew heavy inspiration from the book Rhythms of Life by neuroscientist Russell Foster and Leon Kreitzman, which deals with biorhythms.

According to the book, children are most productive between 10.30am and 3pm ‘when their body clocks are in sync with daylight’, so the building has been angled ‘to ensure maximum natural ventilation and daylight, helping boost students’ learning potential in line with Foster’s biorhythm discoveries .

Monkseaton High School - the facts

-        The new school is home to 938 pupils

-        The 9,500m² school’s steel structure includes more than 7,000 pieces of steel weighing 950 tonnes

-        Square classrooms have been avoided to cut down on acoustic reverberation.They do not have ceilings

-        The school has 44 individual toilet pods, pre-manufactured in France and lifted into place on site

-        The roof incorporates a series of long span lattice trusses up to 45m in length

-        The roof has 30 colorful ‘wind catchers’ to reduce reliance on air conditioning

-        Use of 1,000 lux lighting fights the negative effects on the body of darker winter days

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