The Rotunda was a dark and dilapidated pupil referral unit, with real architectural potential, but had languished in poor condition for many years. A leaky roof, broken windows with metal bars, a defunct heating system and undrinkable tap water completed the picture. It was of no surprise to see children riding their bikes through and breaking what they could. Surface to Air were enlisted to help produce a renovation and refurbishment programme which would create a sensitive and suitable environment for the provision of a complex and detailed curriculum.
The existing building was typical of many pupil referral units – claustrophobic and prison-like, with little light or colour. The design strategy was to create the opposite - make the building accessible, light, colourful and modern but still secure, flexible and durable. In order to support the complex and varied timetable, and allow for adaptation over time, the circular plane was simplified into a clear hierarchy of spaces – from an informal teaching/’time-out’ space by the door to the Art Garden, through more formal small group rooms to the larger spaces for art and music and finally the multiuse drum space. Overall, a sense of calm and light pervades the building to help both students and staff feel safe, connected and enthused.
Client: Slough Council
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