National construction and property consultancy Pick Everard is working for the Education Funding Agency (EFA) through Willmott Dixon on the £5million Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form at the heart of Norwich city centre. Construction started on site last week following a visit by education minister Lord Nash.
Pick Everard architects will sensitively transform the 1930’s Grade II listed buildings; converting a former fire station, a civic weights & measures building and tower into a sixth form free school specialising in maths and sciences.
The design strategy for meeting the teaching requirements of the school, for group sizes of up to 32 students, is to simplify and open up spaces and use the full width of the building. Space for both subjects has been planned equally with nine science labs and ten classrooms.
The public facing external facades will remain largely unaltered and wherever possible original architectural features retained. The original steel Crittall windows will be refurbished, as will bi-fold timber doors enclosing fire tender bays. The ground floor will house a cafe and refectory and the old fire tender hall will become a multi-purpose hall for assemblies, lectures and performances for students and also for the local community.
The original features of the recreation room; wood panelling, clock, two billiard scoreboards, coved ceiling, window pelmets and timber flooring will be retained and shown off in a traditional library. Original staircases and balustrades are to be retained, as well as fireman’s poles at each end of the building. At ground floor level these will be open for people to see and touch as an important reminder of the building’s original use and the courage displayed by the firemen of Norwich.
A brand new, glazed, five storey atrium to the eastern side, and a single storey element to the southern side will link the u-shaped cluster of three existing buildings with stairs, corridors and a lift tower. These new elements will relate to the heights of the adjacent buildings and the use of modern materials will clearly differentiate between old and new.
A multi-disciplinary Pick Everard team was appointed through Scape by the Inspiration Trust and provides architecture, civil and structural engineering and mechanical and electrical consultancy.
Pick Everard Eastern Region Director Paul Darlow comments:
“Our involvement at the very early stages of this new free school project and being in close contact with planners and Conservation Officer has been essential given the listing and proposed change of use. Using our design expertise in education, we can breathe new life into these grand, city centre civic buildings, redeveloping them into a contemporary sixth form school to inspire the next generation of mathematicians and computer scientists. We’re also delighted to be working with Willmott Dixon on another free school project through the Scape framework.”
Rachel de Souza, Chief Executive of Inspiration Trust, said:
“Our talented building team will turn this iconic building into a showcase sixth-form college. Our plans respect the past but look to the future with cutting-edge facilities to support our students win places at Britain’s best universities.”