Highfield Humanities College
In Brief

Eric Wright Group


Construction value:

Completion Date:
January 2013 

Highfield Humanities College is a state secondary school of 1,200 pupils between the ages of 11 and 16. It forms part of Blackpool’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme and has replaced what was the dilapidated existing college with its long, forbidding corridors.

In total contrast, our design has recreated the school as a single entity, focused around one main space. This “great room” is now where all staff and pupils share the same space. Public, privileged and private spaces are openly connected to the centre and accessed directly from it. Essentially, we have designed the building from its core outwards.

Highfield's humanities specialism now reinforces the school's connection to the physical, historical and social context of south Blackpool.

The new design optimises this connection  with large windows offering panoramic views to the surrounding community and local landscape.

The brief from client and selected bidder, The Eric Wright Group, was to create a school that replaced run-down buildings with flexible, bright and open spaces. These had to be versatile enough to adapt to the changing needs of education and appealing enough to engender pride among the local community.

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The school’s specialist focus on humanitarian issues and interpersonal relations has been strongly reflected in the design concept for Highfield. Learning environments, pastoral and social spaces are located within the same space and are visibly connected to each other. The design philosophy evolved from the whole school model that we developed in conjunction with The Eric Wright Group, Highfield and the Local Authority. 

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"From the very first meeting with the Architects and the Eric Wright Group there was a willingness to listen to our aims, visions and aspirations for the school."
Ian Evans, Headteacher
Design Approach
The new space takes advantage of natural light and orientation to create a variety of learning environments.

Our hope is that the building personifies the relationship between individual aspiration and collective responsibility, and that the design of Highfield will encourage a stronger connection between the school and its neighbourhood.

A central spine provides dedicated spaces for teaching technology, art and science, with more flexible ‘open learning zones’ leading off it. The result of this collaboration is a building that is dramatic, full of light and easy for staff and students to navigate.

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Glazed tiles have been commonly used in seaside architecture both on roofs and elevations and the new design reinterprets this to give a very different and eye-catching visual effect. Large glazed tiles adorn the façade in a variety of blues and greens, producing a dramatic series of vividly coloured elevations in a wave pattern reminiscent of the sea or shimmering fish scales. 

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"The attention to detail in the functionality of all parts of the building and the quality of materials used are a hallmark of what makes the building a special place to learn."
Ian Evans, Headteacher
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Eric Wright Group
Structural Engineer:
Booth King Partnership Ltd
M&E Engineer:
RPS Group
Education Consultant:
ICT Consultant:
Landscape Architect:
Will Pryce

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