learning environment for students across a
wide range of abilities.
Mayfield, for instance, is a Mobility
Opportunities via Education (MOVE)
Centre of Excellence, combining therapy
and education to teach children with
physical disabilities and complex needs
functional skills, such as sitting and walking.
Augmentative technologies will be
used from the very first design phase to
identify and propose flexible and innovative
interior solutions to support these learning
objectives and help students live more
St Benedict’s interior will draw inspiration
from the local area’s technological industries
and provide solutions to facilitate a
diverse curriculum, where students will be
encouraged to explore robotics, renewable
energy and low carbon technologies.
On plan, the overall project has a birdlike
appearance with two long teaching
wings positioned either side of a body-like
structure that contains the entrance/winter
garden and the sports areas.
Emphasising the avian likeness, the
central body culminates in a triangular
pointed entrance area that resembles a beak.
Each of the two schools will occupy one
of the wings, with St Benedict’s getting
a three-storey wing, and Mayfield being
accommodated in a lower two-storey
Both of the wings are of a similar design
with steelwork supporting precast planks
and columns mostly based around a 7m
× 7.5m grid pattern. This creates two
perimeter rows of classrooms separated
by central corridors – 1.8m-wide in St
Benedicts and 2m wide in Mayfield - formed
by intermediate columns.
“Building schools with steel is a tried
and tested method,” comments Curtins
Consulting Director Andy Roberts. “It’s an
efficient way to build with the added benefit
of built-in flexibility, whereby partition walls
can be removed to create larger classrooms
if and when desired.”
All of the classroom services are
accommodated within the corridors beneath
the steel beams, with individual services
then directed into each class.
Each wing is a fully braced frame with
cross bracings positioned in some internal
partitions as well as in stairwells, which
are located at each end of the structures.
Because the wings are each approximately
100m-long, they are each separated from the
central zone by movement joints.
As each wing is located either side of the
entrance and the sports facilities, ease of
access has been guaranteed to these areas as
well as a fair amount of privacy.
The central shared zone of the Campus,
which will also be the part accessed by
the local community, is highlighted by
the beak-like triangular pointed entrance
which provides access into a double-height
circulation area known as the winter garden.
The fully glazed entrance is formed with a
series of CHS feature columns with UB roof
beams and ties supporting a 159mm-deep
aluminium deck roof.
The winter garden is a large open space
with just one internal column, but with
no heating, making it a pseudo outdoor
environment. A large circular roof light will
allow plenty of natural light into the zone.
The longest steel elements of the project
were used to span this area, with some
beams measuring up to 22m-long.
Positioned towards the back of the winter
garden are the shared dining areas, kitchens
and sports areas. These consist of a number
of double-height long span structures, with
the largest being the main sports hall. The
sports hall has a clear span of 18.4m, while
the pool has a span of 15.1m.
“When looking at the structural choices
for Campus Whitehaven, steel was the
obvious choice. We have some large spans
throughout the scheme and for economy
wanted to keep the building height to a
minimum, steel helped us achieve this.
“The winter garden forms the main
entrance to the campus and we wanted
a light and airy feel to the double-height
space, while the dynamic triangular feature
canopy that articulates the entrance was
easily achieved in steel to give the minimal
look we wanted,” sums up Ellis Williams
Architects Associate Ruth Clayton.
Cumbria County Council
Ellis Williams Architects
Steel tonnage: 700t
A complex pattern of
steelwork forms the
zone where the two
The lower two-storey
wing will house the