Designing purposeful spaces

With a rapidly expanding roll thanks to its burgeoning population, Hornby High School was in desperate need of a complete knock-down and rebuild of its outdated facilities.

Working with the Ministry of Education and Hornby High’s senior leadership team, S&T masterplanned almost an entirely new school, with room to add on in the future. Together the teams worked to design three learning bases, each joined by a ‘learning street’, including both fixed-use areas and areas which allow teachers to choose from a range of different-sized spaces.

“We’ve designed one-off admin and specialist spaces, and then learning spaces which can grow as the school expands,” says Del Lovie, senior architect at S&T. “There was a real push from Robin and his team for spaces that would suit a new curriculum of collaborative teaching. Together we’ve created a simple exterior form that allows for a lot of variety inside; a purposeful range of spaces that work with a modern curriculum.”

In addition to functioning well for learners, the buildings are far more efficient and liveable than the dated structures they replaced. With insulated roofing panels, an innovative underfloor heating system and double glazing, the school is now a warmer, drier and quieter place to be.

Delivering the school that students deserve

The new buildings have had a noticeable positive impact on the students, the staff and the community of Hornby, says Robin: “Now the kids have the school they always deserved. As soon as we moved in, you could see the students get a lift. They could see that someone had faith in them. Heads came up, shoulders went back, and their demeanor changed. I hope all the people who worked on this understand how significant their work has been and what it’s done for the students and young people of the community.”

The school’s reputation has also risen, thanks not only to its new buildings but also to its committed teachers. Parents who once drove their children past Hornby High School to take them somewhere else are realising the value of the school. Its ethnically diverse population creates “a beautifully rich tapestry” of ideas and creativity, says Robin, giving students an open-mindedness and adaptability that will stand them in good stead in modern workplaces. And the new spaces are making it easier for teachers to teach and students to learn effectively.

“It’s had a fantastic impact on the kids’ learning, which is the ultimate determinant of staff wellbeing. Everyone, without exception, comments on what a wonderfully calm and focused environment it is.