Architectural Design Process | Q&A with Helen
Helen Madin our Project Architect who specialises in education, housing and project management in the delivery of construction at HPA discusses her most recent completed projects. Last Wednesday Helen attended the opening of the completed campus redevelopment for Blackburn-based independent Westholme School. Our design for the new single campus school brings together the two buildings with a new first-floor extension to form a new Primary school for 200 Infant and Junior school pupils. The relocation of both schools on to the Wilmar Lodge site brings all the students together, to create a new sense of community and improved shared facilities, including an additional outdoor learning area, along with new recreational playground and upgraded library and hall space. Having been completed for Autumn 2022, the new campus, welcomed back students and is now fully occupied.
With extensive specialist knowledge in education and housing, what have been some of your most rewarding projects so far?
As the Architect you see the positive, transformative impact you’ve been able to have the individuals involved, first hand. It has been rewarding to see the delivery of two major projects.
The development at Westholme School included upgrading the existing facilities and working with new technologies. The improvements resulted in a pleasant working and learning environment across all age groups. The new building sits within the existing campus as though it has always been there.
Warton Grange Close development provides a modern twist on traditional housing, within an AONB. The large windows and zinc cladding, replacing the chocolate box windows and lead detailing, provide a brighter family home which complement the surroundings. The site plan tucks the houses behind the existing street line, creating a communal green and providing footpath connections into the wider village. Respectful of AONB whilst providing a new vernacular of housing.
What is one of your proudest achievements?
During my involvement in the development at Westholme School, there were numerous challenges, as there often is on a lot of projects. A key component of the challenge encompassed the installation of the linear rooflights – these elements were key to the open feel of the school and move away from the institutional nature of school corridors.
It is best for Architects to design in collaboration with other disciplines and should be encouraged. This is key to ensure that a well-rounded, comprehensive scheme is produced.
The clients’ requirements should not only be fulfilled but exceeded, from the original vision and brief. Most projects go through several variations to adapt to external factors such as timescale and budget; therefore, it is key to keep the essence of the concept within the adaptations.
What separates architecture in the education sector from other areas of architectural design?
In general, educational architecture implicates designing multifunctional volumes with simple character. The education system is constantly evolving and therefore institutions need their buildings to follow suit. Educational facilities need to provide an inspiring place for all users, the buildings can be used as a teaching tool themselves.
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