Notre Dame Catholic College

Location Liverpool, UK
Services Building services, civil, structural and geotechnical engineering
Sector Education 
Client Liverpool City Council
Architect Shepard Robson
Imagery © Hufton + Crow

Gordon Reid

T +44 (0)191 213 1515

Willmott Dixon have completed the construction of the Notre Dame Catholic College in Liverpool for Liverpool City Council (LCC).

The school was the first of a batch of new schools procured by LCC to replace those which did not proceed when the BSF programme was cancelled. The key principle within brief for the project was to design a simple building ‘shell’, which could then be replicated on other sites and populated to suit the specialisms of other schools. The principles designed for this scheme have been adopted on subsequent school projects for LCC.

The design achieved the target rate of £1,200/m2,as well as being able to be constructed on a tight site within a short construction period.

The structural form consists of a simple shell with 56m span glulam bowstring trusses providing a column free internal environment. Perimeter accommodation, of up to 3-storeys, is provided for classrooms, with the structure detailed to maximise natural daylight and openable windows for natural ventilation. The upper floors are formed using precast concrete units with an exposed soffit, permitting use of the thermal mass of the structure. Within the central area, the column free space allows a free environment to install modular and bespoke facilities to reflect the specialism of the school. In the case of Notre Dame this is drama, hence the school building contains a drama ‘block’ with lighting rigs, flying system and amphitheatre seating. The space also provides breakout areas, a chapel and café area. The ground floor slab was designed to offer the flexibility for the movement, addition or removal of these modular structures which may occur as the curriculum of the school changes over the life of the building.

Another key aspect of the brief is that the structure was to be designed such that the internal floor structures can be dismantled and removed at any time in the future, leaving a stable, clear span space facilitating a potential change of use.

The building services include a modular arrangement which is repeated throughout the building, providing commonality for servicing, maintenance and efficient cost effective installation.

“Liverpool has experienced 12 years of falling pupil numbers and now they’re building up again but in different areas,” said Ron Rampling, BSF project director. “These models mean that if for some reason the population shifts, what you’re left with is not a duff school but a very attractive commercial space. This de-risks the investment the council puts into new schools,” he added.

  • Education Estates 2014, Project of the Year - Winner