Northwood Primary School in Darlington was born out of a vision to create an affordable school which was low carbon; something different and inspiring – a hub for the community, offering extended services and space which would help redefine and regenerate the local area.
The design strategy takes advantage of the building’s context with classrooms oriented to the southern aspect to maximise natural light and ventilation, with garden terraces on the first floor ensuring every classroom has access to outside space.
As well as a timber frame, biomass boiler and balancing pond, the building features a patchwork sedum roof and green wall with living plants and herbs, to help reduce CO2 emissions and rainwater run-off, reducing the risk of flooding whilst providing a natural ecological habitat and learning resource.
Looking to make as little impact on the environment as possible, the design concept evolved to an idea of a building that was part of the landscape itself.
The form of the building reflects this with a curved form that appears as if it has literally grown out of the ground.
Northwood has been recognised by Cabe as an exemplar of community engagement and in 2011 was named Sustainable School of the Year by the British Council for School Environments.