Ysgol Cynefin, HLM Architects wins Cardiff Twin School Project

HLM Architects, in collaboration with Kier Construction and AECOM, have secured a prestigious contract to rebuild the Court School in Cardiff.

The £23 million project at Ysgol Cynefin involves building two new sites at existing primary schools in the city, significantly enhancing educational facilities for pupils.

The Court School, which will be  renamed ‘Ysgol Cynefin’, will be strategically located in Fairwater and Llanrumney. Each site will accommodate 36 key stage two pupils, addressing the growing demand for primary age specialist provision across Cardiff. The brand-new school has been meticulously designed to foster an optimal learning environment, including ideal special adjacencies, secure connections, and essential requirements.

The co-locations will be situated next door to two mainstream schools and will offer separate outside areas where students can make full use of the landscape around them. From the very conception of the project, we have worked in consultation with staff, developing  close relationships. These connections have helped us explore and understand the needs of both staff and students and has allowed us to design two transformational spaces that will enhance and support the experience of daily life in the schools.

Creating an environment where students and staff felt safe and comfortable whilst making the most of the outdoor spaces was paramount. With a variety of external spaces for pupils and staff to learn, explore or relax, the design encompasses the various ways to utilise the space. Pitched roofs which extend over the outdoor spaces create covered spots where outside learning can thrive, or students can take a moment to themselves. The bicycle workshop is a student favourite at The Court School and so we thought it was a key activity to be brought across to the new sites. Students will now have a designated area where they can get hands on and develop their manual skills to be taken forward in later life.

A number of courtyards run throughout the new schools, providing wellness spaces for staff and pupils that offer safe, enclosed areas that are flooded with natural light. Furthermore, the use of various natural materials throughout the buildings creates a direct connection with the surrounding landscape of the area. This sense of connection to nature reflects perfectly with the school’s name Ysgol Cynefin which translates to habitat school.

Angela Sheppard, Project Lead at HLM Architects, expressed her enthusiasm for the project: “Our team has worked closely with the school staff to fully understand the needs of both educators and pupils. By integrating the natural environment, we aim to create an enriching space where children can thrive.”

Ysgol Cynefin is a vital component of the Additional Learning Needs Transformation Programme, initiated in 2021. This program seeks to provide specialist places within the Cardiff maintained sector for all children and young people who require additional learning support beyond mainstream placements.

“Cardiff is embarking on a radical transformation of additional learning needs provision. Ysgol Cynefin represents a crucial step toward ensuring every child receives the support they need to succeed.”

A Cardiff Council spokesperson, emphasised the significance of the new twin primary school initiative:

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