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Two Bridges Academy.

The Proposals

The proposed Two Bridges Academy will be a unique provision providing bespoke and specialist accommodation for a wide range of pupils with autism, SLD and PMLD. The site design has been developed, ensuring key connectivity between building, landscape, and surrounding context.

 

Design

Overview

The proposed building is a combination of one and two storeys and forms a ‘C’ shape footprint with a central, protected learning courtyard space for pupils to enjoy.

 

The two-storey element of the building comprises teaching spaces, staff and admin offices and a variety of therapy spaces. The single-storey element contains large, shared spaces such as the dining hall, multi-purpose hall and the hydrotherapy suite.

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Key considerations include:

  • Maintaining existing vegetation where possible to the site boundary for screening mitigation purposes. This will not only aid in assimilating the built form into the local context but will also ensure biodiverse connectivity is maintained.

  • Separating vehicular/pedestrian access to ensure safety to students.

  • Locating the bin store and delivery area close to kitchens for ease of use.

  • Site security and safeguarding.

  • Providing external opportunities for classes to gather, be taught, and provide students with a connection to the natural environment through the creation of a variety of spaces including food growing areas, habitat corners, meadow areas.

  • A range of external social play spaces allow for small and large group gatherings, ensuring separation of Primary and Secondary play spaces.

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For robustness and to ensure the proposed building complements its surroundings, the ground floor will be constructed of red brickwork from a local factory, with white render to the first-floor level. Window frames, doors, rainwater goods and the roof will all be a dark grey colour. In keeping with the low embodied carbon aspirations of the building, we have introduced responsibly sourced timber cladding to the external walls of the dining room, multi-purpose hall and to one of the walls to the courtyard. A distinctive timber canopy identifies the main entrance of the building for pupils, staff and visitors and this will be supplemented by signage and school branding.

 

The building is designed to have a high performance thermally insulated envelope, low energy consumption and roof-mounted photovoltaic panels.

Health & wellbeing

The proposed building is designed for the health and wellbeing of the school community, including the use of calming pastel colours, natural materials, high degree of thermal comfort and acoustic performance; the provision of low-risk, safe and secure access and egress from the building.  All activities within class, hygiene, rebound therapy and hydrotherapy pool activities are made complete via overhead hoists and trackways.

Community use

The layout of the proposed school has been designed to allow it to offer some specialist facilities for community use. This includes a hydrotherapy pool, specialist disability sports equipment for rebound therapy, changing facilities specially designed for young people with additional needs, soft play space for supporting sensory diet needs, outdoor wheelchair accessible play equipment and purpose-built life-skills facilities which will be available for the local community use and for hire outside school hours.

 

Ecology and landscaping

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Hard Landscape Strategy

The external hard landscape will aim to function as an extension to the proposed school building by offering teaching and study spaces as well as areas for sport, play, socialising, relaxation, and reflection.

 

These external spaces will incorporate entrance points providing access to the building, circulatory spaces across the site and areas of the congregation during break times. The areas will cater for a range of students whilst providing a variety of scales of space and types of activity

 

Features will include:

  • A safe, accessible, and stimulating environment with fencing where appropriate

  • Areas of asphalt for flexible play and formal sports

  • Freestanding canopies providing shade and shelter

Soft Landscape Strategy

The soft landscape strategy will connect the proposed school building with the surrounding context, and create a cohesive landscape character within the site, which will aid the biodiversity of the site and define a range of external spaces for students and staff alike.

 

Planting provides seasonal and sensory diversity with chosen species providing visual interest, through form, colour, texture, and movement. Tree and shrub planting could provide shelter from the weather and create a sense of enclosure.

 

Planting areas can be used to subdivide areas of surfacing and tree planting may be sited in planting beds to enable access to adequate air and water and reduce reliance on artificial irrigation. Existing trees will be retained where possible, and new planting species will be selected to diversify existing species on-site and encourage wildlife such as birds, bees, and other insects.

 

The soft landscape for the school will provide opportunities for play, exploration, and study, increase the biodiversity of the site, and provide:

 

  • An area in which to socialise & dine

  • Place for relaxation and calm with seating and shelter from the elements

  • Areas of tree and shrub planting for shelter, seasonal interest, and biodiversity

  • Bench seating and seating areas for learning/ dining outdoors

  • Habitat areas using natural materials such as logs, boulders, and landform

  • Wildflower meadow planting to reduce maintenance and encourage wildlife

  • Raised beds for students to grow plants

  • A safe, accessible, and stimulating environment with fencing where appropriate

  • A high-quality attention to design and materials choice

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Drainage and site levels

Site levels and drainage will influence the design and the possibility of incorporating sustainable drainage must be considered, to reduce the impact on flood risk.

 

Drainage should be linked to the existing infrastructure. Rainfall could potentially be captured and stored on-site for irrigation. Hard surfaces, such as car parking bays, may be permeable to reduce potential standing water and might be part of a sustainable drainage system (SuDS).  As well as permeable surfacing, a range of soft landscape features such as rain gardens and planted swales, and below ground linked tree pits may be part of the SuDS design.

 

Access and parking

Pedestrian & Vehicle Access
Two entrances are proposed into the school, the first is the pedestrian access located at the Marwood School boundary.  The public pedestrian footpath which currently terminates at the Marwood School entrance will be extended in the grass verge alongside Vattingstone Lane to give safe access for pedestrian and cyclists making their way to and from Two Bridges Academy.  The new pedestrian entrance into the school grounds will be well illuminated and made secure out of hours by a double leaf security gate.

 

The second entrance is for vehicles, suitably sized to allow large coaches to access the site for school trips, and the weekly refuse collection.  The entrance has been designed to allow incoming and outgoing vehicles to pass safely, as well as providing a safe waiting area off Vattingstone Lane for the security gate to be unlocked and locked at the start and finish of the school day, and for exiting vehicles to wait safely before joining Vattingstone Lane. The circulation road within the new car park and drop off has been designed to allow waiting vehicles to queue within the confines of the school grounds at drop-off and pick-up times without causing a nuisance on Vattingstone Lane.

 

Both the new vehicle entrance and pedestrian footpath will be designed and constructed in accordance with South Gloucestershire’s highway authority specifications, for safety and inclusivity.

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Car Parking

Enable Trust will enact a Green Travel Plan to ensure those vehicle movements amongst staff and visitors is minimised encouraging the use of public transport, walking and cycling and, due to the school’s rural location, car sharing.  The school’s car park has 50 spaces, two of which will have electric charging points.

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Proposed features will include:

  • 50 parking spaces including accessible, electric charging and car share bays

  • Pick up & drop off area for 7 minibuses and 5 taxis

  • Cycle storage for 6 bikes accessed off Vattingstone Lane to the south of the site

  • 3 entrance points to the school building for pupils/staff and the community from the vehicle and pedestrian access points off Vattingstone Lane

  • Service access within drop off area – plant & kitchen accessed on foot from the drop off bays (deliveries/ services are carried out outside school pick up and drop off).

  • Maintenance access within the site

  • Emergency services access to the front of the building from the car park

  • Main pedestrian & cycle access – shared access off Vattingstone Lane, with cyclists dismounting at entrance gates.

  • Pedestrian access points and circulation between external play spaces

 

Sustainability

Sustainability and Net Zero Carbon

The council has signed a Climate Emergency Declaration and pledged to provide leadership to enable South Gloucestershire to become carbon neutral by 2030. This proposed building has been designed to be carbon neutral in operation.

Other sustainability considerations that have been applied to the proposals include:
 

  • Energy  - Energy-efficient building services, plant and equipment, low or zero-carbon energy-generating technologies and the ability to monitor energy use to reduce carbon emissions. No gas will be used.
     

  • Fabric First  - Thermal efficient building design with a thick layer of thermal insulation on the ground floor, walls and roof.  High-performance windows triple glazed with glass coatings to retain heat and reduce solar gain.  The building will have a superior level of airtightness to minimise air leakage.
     

  • Lighting – Large windows maximise the use of natural daylight.  Controlled energy efficient (LED) lighting will be used to supplement this when required
     

  • Ventilation - The building is naturally ventilated using ‘Natural Ventilation with Heat Recycling’ (NVHR), where the cold air entering the building is tempered by the heat recovered from the exhaust air being expelled from the building.  Rooms without windows will be serviced with Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR) which uses a similar principle.  The kitchen and hydrotherapy pool will have their own mechanical ventilation systems with heat recovery.
     

  • Renewables - Solar PV panels will generate, on average, enough energy to run the building, with the surplus being sold back to the national grid during holiday periods.  Air source heat pumps will be used to heat the underfloor heating and the water for the hydrotherapy pool
     

  • Carbon emissions - Consideration has been given to life-cycle environmental impacts of materials used in the project.  All building materials used have an inherently high degree of recycled content as well as being able to be re-purposed, deconstructed or re-cycled at end of life.
     

  • Water Conservation - Efficient taps and sanitary ware will conserve water. Water usage will be monitored and leak detection employed.  Rainwater will be stored for irrigation and the creation of water gardens for the children and as a ‘grey water’ source for flushing toilets.
     

  • Maintenance - The new building is designed for ease of maintenance and minimum health and safety hazards, for example, walkways and handrails to clean and inspect the PV solar panels.
     

  • Reducing the carbon footprint – The use of local suppliers, subcontractors and manufactures will reduce the construction footprint. Modern methods of construction will minimise road journeys.   Minimise construction waste and encourage the use of electric construction plant
     

  • Ecology - The environmental impact of the site is considered including its ecological value and the protection of existing hedgerows and mature planting, mitigating the impact on and enhancing the ecology with wildflower meadows, native species of flora and fauna to encourage wildlife havens
     

  • Pollution - The car park lighting will be designed to be ‘dark-sky’ friendly to protect the rural environment and save energy
     

  • Transport - Secure cycle storage is provided for staff and visitors who wish to cycle to the school.  Two electric car charging points have been provided in the car park, with underground ducts for future expansion of the charging network

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