Wilkinson Primary School: Introduction & Brief

Photo © Dennis Gilbert; View Pictures

Key Details

•    Name: Wilkinson Primary School
•    Location: Bilston, Wolverhampton
•    Use: Mainstream Primary with Nursery Care
•    Build Type: Timber Frame
•    Time frame: On site October 2012/ Handover February 2014
•    Value: £5.05m
•    GIFA: 2610 sqm.


Project Team

•    Client: Wolverhampton City Council
•    Architect: Architype
•    PHPP: Elemental Solutions
•    M & E Engineers: E3 Consulting Engineers
•    Structure Engineers: Price & Myers
•    Timber Frame: Cygnum
•    Quantity Surveyor: Smith Thomas Consulting
•    Landscape: Coe Design
•    Contractor: Thomas Vale Construction
•    Acoustics: ION Acoustics



Architype’s successful history of delivering schools for Wolverhampton City Council led to a repeat commission to replace an existing school that had fallen victim to an arson attack in 2010. 

Previously Architype had persuaded the client to adopt the Passivhaus standard on Oak Meadow and Bushbury Hill Primary Schools (the 1st Passivhaus schools in the UK). Following the success of these schools, the client insisted upon Passivhaus for Wilkinson Primary. The client’s full support and understanding of the standard has truly enhanced the possibilities of the design and building performance.

The new design takes the school from 1.5 form entry to 2-form entry, accommodating 430 pupils. The school also requires space for a 30-place nursery and flexible space available out of hours as part of the community outreach developed in the brief.


Design Intent

Some of the key design aspirations included:

•    Expressing the character and atmosphere of the school in line with the feedback from consultation and the schools future plans.
•    Creating a dynamic range of stimulating spaces for teaching and learning that enable staff to teach according to modern pedagogies, providing flexibility for change and sustainability in the short and long term.
•    Achieving effective but unobtrusive security for pupils and staff that would help the users to feel safe in their new school and look forward to a new chapter of the schools history.
•    Ensuring that ancillary support and circulation spaces are optimised to work simply and effectively
•    Creating a delightful, airy and uplifting building made from natural, sustainable materials, that wherever possible are low-carbon, recycled and free from toxins, for an ecologically conscientious building that contributes to user well-being.
•    Maximising natural daylight and ventilation, to create
•    A healthy internal environment that delivers superior levels of comfort
•    Designing a building that will be a legacy to the community, with communal facilities that will enable ownership and local pride.
•    Achieving a high level of quality to be reflected throughout the design and finish of the building.


Response To Brief

The building has been rationalised with Key Stage 1 and nursery on the ground floor and Key Stage 2 on the first floor, with shared hall facilities and external soft play areas. The inclusive design focuses on a central ‘hub’ space, allowing for flexibility and accommodating a range of learning techniques; focused learning, quiet break out and messy play.

A number of other design environmental considerations have been implemented into the design of Wilkinson to improve the overall site performance and the building’s environmental impact. For example,  the existing multi use games area has been reused and as much green space as possible has been maintained to support a rich biodiversity. A large number of bird and bat boxes populate the site, situated in the trees and main building.

Located in the Black Country, the site is a former iron works from the industrial revolution; an old forge was identified, restricting the location of the foundations. To avoid extensive remediation, the new build footprint was placed in the same location as the previous.

With respect the building design; the south facing canopies have been  strategically angled the at 15 ° to reflect winter sunlight onto the internal ceiling and into the heart of the building through the high level clerestory windows.

As considerate contractors, Thomas Vale implemented a robust waste management strategy, with a focus on reducing the amount of waste produced from site.


‘The school is flooded with natural daylight set over two floors with full height internal views that give a real sense of scale and progression for the children as they move through the school with older children on the upper floor.’ Tina Gibbon / Headteacher