Defence Sixth Form College is a unique combination of first-class technical college and a military establishment providing educational and boarding facilities for 6th form students who have been selected for officer training in the Armed Services. The brief was to provide a fully serviced residential sixth form college specialising in science and sport for 340 students training to be officers in the Armed Services and the Civil Service.
The brief stipulated the buildings should be ‘gracious’ with ‘immediate visual impact’, to create an environment in which young people are enabled and encouraged to reach the highest academic and personal standards that reflect the ethos of the Armed Services.
The resulting concept established a central axis leading from the primary approach road, culminating in a radial block named ‘The Forum’ which sat centrally, defining the entrance and forming a meeting point and social hub. Curvilinear pedestrian routes linked The Forum to the teaching and sports areas to the east and residential accommodation to the west, forming the main student thoroughfare. By mixing various materials in different combinations across the buildings, the differing functions of each block were clearly expressed.
The internal environment used light, space and high-quality materials that blended internal and external spaces. Natural materials such as cherry wood, slate and limestone were combined with structural glass (enhanced for security requirements) and fair-faced blockwork to form a robust finish, while the strong use of colour created focal points and a sense of place.
Throughout the project, HLM worked closely with the college to develop a scheme that responded to their specific needs and provided a flexible approach to the changing needs of the education syllabus.
Overall, the scheme was an elegant, formal solution to the contrasting requirements of a military establishment and a school. The symmetry created by the design approach provided a strong sense of arrival and a fitting grandeur demanded by the collegiate atmosphere.
HLM’s Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College has received numerous accolades, including the RIBA Ibstock Award and, in the Charnwood Design Awards, a Highly Commended in the Landscape category and winner in the category of Best New Build.
"We were impressed by HLM's enthusiasm and commitment and their understanding of this major relocation project was very important to us. The result is a scheme that everyone is delighted with and the campus that now has MoD 'flagship' status, which is a real credit to all of us but perhaps particularly to HLM."
For and on behalf of Interserve Construction Limited David. J. Large, Divisional Director