Blue Bell Hill Primary School

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Blue Bell Hill Primary School


Blue Bell Hill Primary School
Gordon Road
St Anns

Tel: 01159 683 400



Project Status - Completed


The construction of Blue Bell Hill Primary School consisted mainly of refurbishment works and the construction of external play/learning areas. The works were split into three phases with the majority of the external works carried out in phase 1 to maintain access around the building.


The Project and Design:


Blue Bell Hill is a primary school situated in St Ann's area of Nottingham, north east of the city centre. St Ann's is a deprived area and at the lowest in terms of economic development in the UK. The proposals were undertake an extensive remodel of the school, including the subsequent demolition of the existing IT room, relocation of the main entrance and an increased connectivity between the internal and external spaces. The works radically improved the educational provision for the school and created a building that is refocused and connected to the outdoor environment.

The main school was substantially remodelled. A new and simplified entrance arrangement was formed centrally on the northern elevation in the location of the existing nursery entrance. A new glazed area on the façade signals the entrance and provides visual connectivity into the building to give a welcoming feel. The school is accessed from a new pedestrian square that provides an improved sense of arrival and a larger more practical space to handle pick up and drop off. The existing car-parking was largely retained but the new arrangement allows pedestrian access directly to the main entrance without crossing the access road.

The new entrance opens to a generous meeting place area with a reception desk adjacent, fronting the administration office. The headteacher's office is located to the rear of the admin area. The meeting place accommodates parents and children at different times of day, for dining, social interaction and informal group work. The café area has an adjacent small kitchen with a servery onto the café that can also be used for teaching of small groups. A small shop is used for school business and enterprise activities and there is an area for use of ICT and a carpeted area for children's play. School dining also takes place in the meeting area and the previous kitchen servery was adjusted to accommodate this. From the meeting place there is access to a small dining area externally in part of the previous foundation play area.

The meeting place flows into a family area that is located in the refurbished north western corner of the building (the previous location of the foundation unit). This consists of a den and sanctuary area and also shares the small kitchen off the meeting place. The knuckle area formed by the angle of the corner rooms creates a hub area that joins the meeting place with the sanctuary, den and the kitchen. This is the family hub space. From this area the previous head and admin area was accessed. This is now re-used as SMT offices and meeting rooms. The family suite of spaces is shared use by the school, extended school, parents and multi-agency during the daytime and functions as a bookable suite of spaces at evenings and weekends.

The approach to the rest of the building was simplistic and had a clear concept; to clear out a zone of useable learning space that started and ended at the meeting place, flowing as a ribbon around the school. This learning space is a series of connected shared hub areas that is a common linking feature through the school and gives logic to the circulation and way finding in the school- a clear diagram. The building was extensively remodelled internally to achieve this. The perimeter classrooms were remodelled to provide larger teaching bases and areas for F1 and F2. The classrooms were cleared of the previous awkward plan arrangements through the rationalisation of the shared base WC's that were too big. The reduction of these spaces facilitated larger, squarer classrooms and facilitated the new transformational educational strategy. All classrooms enjoy daylight from the large windows and the new plan makes the classrooms pleasant teaching environments. Classrooms to the south suffered from overheating and glare and this was addressed through the use of blinds and/or an external canopy.

The separate arts and projects studio is now accessed from the shared hub area between foundation and year one. A covered canopy links to this building so that it feels more connected with the main school.

The PE hall was reinstated to its original size by the removal of the internal corridor that was a later addition. The strategy for circulation in the school does not require a corridor link in this area.

The performance hall was too small to hold the school performances. To address this issue the east wall was replaced with a sliding folding screen that opens up the performance hall to a multi-use 'market space.' This provides not only an opportunity to use the opening formed as a proscenium for a stage in the shared area but also a larger space for school assemblies and gatherings- enhancing the flexibility of the plan. The classroom on the north east corner is utilised for an EIP suite by the school.

The area around the kitchen on the north wing of the building largely remained unaltered.

The current sanctuary room in this location is used as an adult learning/extended school facility and two of the rooms were transformed into a medical area.

The space in between the kitchen areas and the performance hall was cleared to create the final link of the market space into the meeting place completing the journey around the school.

Externally works proposals focussed around creation of improved external areas for a variety of learner settings and an improved entrance approach.

The landscape masterplan involved a more holistic approach to the long term development of the school site.

The following proposals were delivered as part of this programme of works;


  • Extensions to all classrooms in the form of outdoor spill out areas- a ribbon of linked spaces to the east, south and west of the building
  • Further extensions from the outdoor learning area compromising decks at the southwest and south east corners
  • Development of a sunken performance and assault course/play area around the existing trim trail compromising perimeter steps down from the southern outdoor classrooms for a seating/viewing area
  • Extension of the foundation play areas
  • New entrance piazza and covered canopy