This new building for Birchwood High School in Bishops Stortford combines a modern design and environmental features, delivering a highly energy efficient facility comprising a teaching block of 16 classrooms, a central learning resource centre and administration accommodation. The building acts as a focal point when entering the school site. To access the main entrance of the building, visitors are drawn across the new piazza at the heart of the site. The double height glazed entrance is accessed through a large overhanging canopy, hung with solar shading to minimise over heating to the glazed areas.
The central design feature is a highly visible learning resource centre on two floors. Internal double height glazing separates the reception from the learning resource centre on the ground floor and staff work area above, while enabling access to both; the north facade of the learning resource centre is also heavily glazed. The transparency of this area expresses the link between the staff and pupil areas within the building and also opens up the central learning area to all who visit the school. The central focus for the building is further emphasised by the winged roof form which also links various functions in the building. The form of the winged roof is expressed internally wherever possible, notably creating high sloping ceilings to the first floor classrooms. However, it is in the central resource area and entrance areas that visitors, pupils and teachers can see the full extent of the roof form.