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Work completes on new transformational school for Tower Hamlets, London

16 May 2012

Construction has completed on the redevelopment of Sir John Cass and Red Coat Church of England Secondary School, Stepney Way, in East London. Commissioned by Tower Hamlets Council, designed by architects Astudio and built by Bouygues UK, the project combines new build and refurbishment to create a transformational scheme aimed to positively impact effectiveness in teaching and learning.

Built under the Building Schools for the Future programme, the new school in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets will accommodate 1495 pupils aged 14-19.   Sir John Cass and Red Coat Church of England School is the fifth in the borough to be handed over by Bouygues UK, with a further 10 schools currently under construction or yet to commence works.

 Three new buildings, carefully arranged to stitch together the refurbished main building, have been built on the school’s tight 3.5 acre site.  The new school features a strong and welcoming entrance, a mixture of new and refurbished classrooms, a new Performing Arts Centre, and a state-of-the-art Virtual Learning Centre to act as a hub for learning.

 To maximise the school site, where previously buildings and extensions were poorly configured in relation to each other with a number of “leftover spaces” and no long term planning strategy, Astudio worked with the school to create a masterplan to improve and enhance the experience of all those using the site.  Carefully considered external spaces bring the school together, hard-surfacing of all available external areas provides much needed play space alongside tree-planting and landscaping, which help to “green” the site.

The design celebrates and emphasises the striking difference between new and legacy buildings, with ceramic tiles used for the new buildings in contrast with the brick and concrete of the existing 1960s and 1970s structures.

 The new elements include:

 Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, said: “The works carried out under the BSF programme are creating top class educational facilities at secondary schools across the borough.  Building Schools for the Future is not just about bricks and mortar, it is about the young people who will experience life-changing benefits from this investment. ”

George Brennan, director at Astudio Architecture, said: “Remodelling school sites and combining refurbishment with new build to maximise their role as centres of education both for pupils and the wider community is now the basis of most school projects.  By first considering all the options and then creating a masterplan, rather than approaching school regeneration piecemeal, the best possible outcome for the budget can be achieved.

“Having worked very closely with the school to achieve its vision, we have developed a creative and considered design that has transformed Sir John Cass and Red Coat Church School, not only in terms of the facilities it now offers, but in its ability to engender pride, inspire and become integrated into the community.”

Managing Director of Bouygues UK, Lionel Christolomme, said:  “We are really proud to have been involved in the transformation of Sir John Cass and Red Coat Church School in Tower Hamlets. It is a reflection of the excellent ongoing relationships that such outstanding facilities have been delivered for the benefit of the pupils and community they serve”.

The school forms a key part of Wave 5 of the Tower Hamlets Building Schools for the Future programme.