St George’s, A Church of England Academy – Blackpool

St George’s Academy

Based in Blackpool, St George’s officially became St George’s School, A Church of England Academy on the 1st of April 2014. Along with the change of status, they also received the official handover of a £600,000 library and learning hub to enhance their current offering.

Working closely with the architect and client, we were appointed to design and furnish the space in what was once was the school gym. Our brief was to create a contemporary learning environment and library.

We embarked on a thorough consultation period with the staff discussing layouts, furniture options and colour schemes. The challenge was to design a space that would not only house the school’s library, but also provide flexibility of use for individual and/or group study by the teachers and students along with providing a place that could be used by the wider community for informal meetings and other events.

To maximise the height of the space a mezzanine floor was introduced, this was to house the library and the extensive book collection held by the school. Space planning was key to achieve the storage capacity required and custom-made floor to ceiling bookcases were fitted around the perimeter. For added book storage and to provide soft seating for the children, a feature “s” shaped unit was added in the centre.

The surrounding glass balustrade enhanced the modern open feel of the space, allowing natural light to flood in from the floor to ceiling windows opposite and the clever use of floor finishes allows areas to be defined without the need for walls or barriers.

The vast open space on the ground floor is home to the learning hub, providing individual and group areas for all types of study and teaching. Clusters of soft seating, including a centre piece sofa, create a relaxed environment for students to simply sit quietly and read or engage in group discussions. Equally, versatility here was key and the use of mobile tables and stacking chairs means the space can be quickly and easily re-configured from teaching, to study to large scale presentations.

The Watershed, a staff ‘coffee shop’ style room is also located within the space. With it’s modern furniture and neutral colour scheme, it provides the perfect haven for staff to relax in between classes.

I’m sure you’ll agree we’re definitely ‘learning our lesson’ where school libraries are concerned! The result is an impressive new facility which ensures students and staff are equipped for the future…