Forming part of a new community being built on the outskirts of Didcot, Aureus School needed to serve as one of the beating hearts of that community, echoing and supporting its values. Didcot is emerging as a technology town of the future, and the new school’s curriculum would reflect this with a focus on STEAM teaching.
Aureus School sits next to UTC Oxfordshire – a building we had designed a few years earlier. We therefore had to consider how the school would relate to the UTC, as well as to its wider surroundings.
We wanted Aureus School to be a resource that benefited everyone, and designed several spaces for the wider community, including rooms that could double as conference or training venues. Each teaching space benefits from the latest thinking in school design. A generous entrance and professional reception welcome visitors, and a large three-sided courtyard behind the main building gives pupils a sheltered and easily supervised space to socialise, relax, and play. We used large windows to maximise daylight and views over the countryside.
The school is highly sustainable, from the trees and shrubs which support biodiversity, to the choice of materials and natural ventilation. We also looked closely at how our designs could help with the wellbeing of children and staff – a growing issue, and something which architects can affect in the way we design spaces. The school is now well known for its positive approach to wellbeing, and was recently one of only six secondary schools in the UK to receive Gold status from the Carnegie Centre of Excellence Mental Health Award for Schools.
We have since designed Aureus Primary School nearby, taking a similarly successful approach.
“Our architects, ADP, worked so closely with us to create our beautiful school’s aesthetics, and this enables us to put a culture and ethos of wellbeing at the centre of our vision… We are delighted with the stunning space which our children can grow, learn and flourish in.”– HANNAH WILSON, FORMER EXECUTIVE HEADTEACHER OF AUREUS SCHOOL AND AUREUS PRIMARY SCHOOL