Cardinal Hume Catholic School

Location Gateshead, United Kingdom
Services Building services, civil and structural engineering and transportation 
Sector Education 
Client Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle
Architect GWK
Imagery © Andrew Heptinstall

Keith Anderson

T +44 (0)191 213 1515

This modern school provides an enjoyable teaching and learning environment for up to 1,200 pupils. It is located on one of Gateshead's central streets. It is a 2-storey high building, save for the 6-storey arts tower. A dedicated and purpose-built 6th form centre was also built, consisting of study areas, ICT facilities and indoor/outdoor social spaces.

The decision to move away from a '2-storeys-throughout' design was made because the 6-storey arts tower would have a number of advantages. First of all, it would provide a focal point for the neighbourhood. Second of all, it would both help achieve structural economies and overcome poor ground conditions. Third of all, it would maximise the area available for external use. The arts tower accommodates facilities such as dance studios, a music recording studio, a film and AV studio and a theatre.

The central courtyard is a striking feature of the design. Situated at the heart of the building, it is the main point of orientation at the school site and has a restaurant and a library. Underneath the library, there is a large flexible space for teaching, assemblies and exhibitions. It also provides a substantial internal space for socialising during adverse weather.

The creation of unusual ‘drumlin’ landscaping areas was implemented as a cost saving solution to overcome the need to remove excavated materials from the site. In addition, the school was designed to be predominantly naturally ventilated. Comfortable conditions in teaching spaces were achieved by a combination of heavy thermal mass and cross-ventilation.

  • RIBA Awards (2009), Winner
  • Hadrian Awards (2009), Winner