Notre Dame Catholic College Liverpool, UK
Notre Dame Catholic College in Everton is the first completed project of Liverpool City Council’s Liverpool Schools Investment Programme. Phase One alone will see eight schools in the city benefitting, of which three (Notre Dame and Archbishop Beck Catholic Sports College and Archbishop Blanch School) are being delivered by Sheppard Robson.
The design was developed from the City Council’s ‘Liverpool Schools Concept’ where a simply constructed large ‘shell’ space is provided efficiently at minimal cost, allowing independent design of the building interior to respond to the schools specific needs - and allow flexible re-organisation throughout the building’s life. The over-arching aim is to improve education, boost the local economy and build stronger local communities.
Planning approval was secured on this site close to the city centre early in 2012, construction began in August 2012 and the students arrived in September 2013 - the same date that would have been achieved by the cancelled BSF programme. The design internally is a careful blend of naturally lit traditional classroom spaces and more open and dynamic break-out and study spaces located through the central concourse and gallery spaces. The whole school embraces its parkland setting with strong visual and physical connections between internal and external spaces.
- Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd
- 10,462 m2
- RICS North West - Shortlisted
- Education Estates Awards - Shortlisted
- Education Estates Awards - Winner
After the cancellation of the final phases of its BSF programme in 2010, Liverpool City Council decided to complete the regeneration of its education estate by self-funding projects through the Scape framework, which was partly funded by the city’s recently acquired mayoral funds. The initiative – part of the Liverpool Schools Investment Programme – revolved around the design of a new 950-pupil school for children aged between 11-18 years old, which developed scalable design ideas that could be then used across a number of projects.
The city’s brief called for a non-iconic, cost-effective and adaptable shell structure capable of hosting a pedagogically-driven, bespoke arrangement of school accommodation. This was to learn from the last decade of schools delivered under the BSF programme, moving away from some of the experimental and expensive ‘transformational’ spaces that it encouraged.
Notre Dame, informed by research into the pedagogic and social requirements of the school. The building is formed from one large, open space which had the feel of a village, with a chapel at its heart and streets defined by pavilion-like learning areas and performance spaces. Internally, the building balances the social and learning requirements of the school through the openness of its design which reduces the physical barriers between students and staff, helping foster a sense of community whilst also allowing for passive supervision. Contrasting the open, lively nature of the central zone, classrooms are peaceful spaces where ventilation and natural lighting have been carefully considered to create the optimum conditions for focused work.
We have seen that quality educational space can be delivered on an ‘austerity’ budget. Notre Dame has become one of the most sought-after schools in the city, with performance and truancy levels significantly improving. The second and third schools have been built even more efficiently as the team tunes the model each time. Most significantly we believe the Liverpool Schools Model demonstrates that good design saves money, encouraging close consultation with the end-user and giving architects the chance to shape learning and social spaces to the specific requirements of the school.