The department store has seen its popularity decline, but schools are still needed. Could one become the other? We entered our design THE HIVE into West Fraser RIBAJ design competition and out of 40 entries we were shortlisted to the last four!
A former Debenhams in Bath becomes The Hive, a school where students ‘experience an interactive and varying exploration of what the school has to offer’ says Chris Darling.
The competition itself attempted to engage with two challenges facing today’s society: a need for more secondary schools to accommodate a growing population at a time of limited money and resources; and the demise of the department store – once a feature of our town centres but now a victim of the diminution of our high streets and the shift to online retailing/shopping. Grand, historic, buildings, some listed, are now vacant, dilapidating and wasting precious space and resource.
The brief asked respondents to choose any UK department store and reconceptualise it as a secondary school for around 750 pupils. Using SterlingOSB Zero as a key component in the materials palette, the designs had to consider the challenges of introducing the complex programming of a school (laboratories, classrooms, sports facilities, dining areas) into a former dedicated retail space with a deep plan.
Our design shows the ground level is an auditorium space for assemblies, performances and an refectory. Around The Hive, on a typical floor, are three zones of themed teaching spaces (such as a music, science and art) with four or five classrooms centred around a breakout foyer. A part-glazed roof sits over the central void with bridges connecting to the surrounding roof level. There, further SterlingOSB Zero structures and raised beds, vegetable gardens and micro orchards provide direct experience for students to understand how food is grown.
We were delighted with our commendation – well done team!
I felt the fun in it. I felt that these incidental spaces would be great for kids, where they could change the environment everyday.
Praised one of the judges
For further details on the winners click here