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Work starts on £30m academy by Hampshire County Council Architects

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Construction has started on a £30 million academy designed by Hampshire County Council’s architect department in the former garrison town of Whitehill and Bordon

Approved last June, the 7,796m² scheme is a replacement for the existing Mill Hill Academy, which is on the town’s eastern fringes.

The 900-place secondary school in Budd Lane will be closer to Bordon’s new town centre, which is itself being relocated as part of the major regeneration plans for the area.

The county council has provided around a third of the funding for the red brick-clad project with the remainder coming from the Whitehall and Bordon Regeneration Company, the Homes and Communities Agency, East Hampshire District Council and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

The new school is due to open in September 2019.

Hcc mill chase academy model (1)

Hcc mill chase academy model (1)

The architect’s view

Responding to the mature woodland context and generally flat site, the school has been designed as a rational, collegiate campus with four separate buildings ordered to create a central courtyard which is intended to act as a social and teaching hub for the school’s community.

This collection of buildings consists of two teaching wings to the north and south with the larger volume sports and assembly/performance halls in between the wings to form the courtyard. This configuration provides excellent external teaching spaces, assembly, dining and performance spaces shaded with external canopy structures.

The proposed use of covered external circulation spaces would both reduce internal floor area and, at a day-to-day level, ensure that students and teachers get a breath of fresh air between classes. They are also, more philosophically, redolent of the tradition of a building encircling space that has both purpose and meaning for the people or community it houses – whether this be in the cloisters or quads of academic institutions or the market places of Hampshire towns.

The southern teaching building provides the principal elevation on to Budds Lane and is set back from the tree line to create a welcoming new pedestrian-friendly school entrance. A brick colonnade leads towards a cut-through entrance which takes you into a central courtyard at the heart of the school.

The Hampshire red stock brick, used throughout, echoes the finely proportioned garrison buildings located across the town. The brickwork is part of a modest palette of cladding materials including dark aluminium-framed curtain walling with translucent, transparent and back-painted glazing.

The wider site has been designed and configured to meet the challenging requirements of a contemporary 900-place secondary school, but also the community of Whitehill and Bordon.

Extensive consultation with proposed user groups together with Sport England devised a diverse brief of facilities that will enable year-round use as part of the Healthy Living Masterplan for the town development.

As a public authority, Hampshire follows, as far as possible, a best-practice approach to sustainable design without necessarily following a structured BREEAM or similar assessment protocol. The Mill Chase project adopts a low-energy, fabric-first strategy offering good views in and out to the historic Woolmer forest site context. A large array of PV panels on the southern teaching wing’s roof will provide 10 per cent of the school’s energy requirements.

The raison d’etre of the in-house team of architects, interior designers, landscape architects and engineers at Hampshire County Council is to create public buildings and places of high architectural and functional quality within the challenging funding constraints of the public purse.

The proposals for Mill Chase have adopted these principles and will, once constructed, create a modern and cohesive learning environment for the children of Whitehill and Bordon and a Gateway community building for the new town.

The design of the project has been developed and presented at various stages with mixed media including; hand drawing and sketches, 2D CAD drawings, 3D SketchUp modelling, physical models, Revit BIM modelling and Virtual Reality (VR) images. The VR images were tested at a public consultation and also as part of the planning process with the regulatory planning committee members, who were able to visualise the scheme during a site visit.

The images enabled the design team and key stakeholders to fully engage and understand the three-dimensional nature of the key spaces including the front elevation and central courtyard.

Mill chase academy plan

Mill chase academy plan

First floor plan

Project data

Location Mill Chase Academy, Budds Lane, Whitehill and Bordon, East Hampshire
Type of Project Education 
Client Hampshire County Council Children’s Services
Architect Hampshire County Council Property Services
Landscape Hampshire County Council Property Services
Structural engineer Hampshire County Council Property Services
Interior design Hampshire County Council Property Services
MEP engineer Hampshire County Council Property Services
Quantity surveyor Hampshire County Council Property Services
Principal designer Hampshire County Council Property Services
Civil engineer Hampshire County Council Engineering Consultancy
Main contractor Kier Construction
Contract value £29.84 million
Funding Hampshire County Council Capital Programme
Tender date July - September 2017
Start on site date November 2017
Completion date September 2019
Contract duration 18 Months
Gross internal floor area 7,796m²
Contract and /or procurement Traditional / 2 stage Framework
Air tightness level 5
Environmental targets Following the principles of BREEAM with a fabric-first low-energy sustainable approach. Working with the National Energy Foundation and EHDC to follow the Assured Performance Process
Planning reference Application No 57112

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