The Wherry School provides specialist tuition for up to 100 pupils aged four to 19 years. Students have a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and a wide range of abilities. Opened in 2017, the school is located on an urban site in Norwich.
Our appointment came as a result of our successful work for the Drumbeat and Brent Knoll ASD schools in the London Borough of Lewisham. A central requirement was to achieve an acoustic design which met the rigorous specifications of Building Bulletin 93 for students with special hearing and communication needs.
We were key authors of the original BB93 standards, which were developed in part following research we conducted for the Lewisham Schools. Our understanding of this document, combined with our early engagement with the client, enabled us to co-ordinate the specialist elements of the design into the wider scheme. This occurred at an early stage, thereby avoiding costly design solutions later in the project.
Alongside standard educational facilities, the Wherry School includes a number of specialist teaching areas and liminal spaces to provide a range of teaching settings. The school is arranged by age group in a linear style. This helps pupils to transition from one Key Stage to the next. Careful consideration of noise from equipment within the school and noise transfer around the school provides a calm teaching environment with controlled stimulus for students.
At the school’s official opening, chair of the Wherry School Trust Barry Payne said: “This school is so important because there are so many children with autistic spectrum disorders who are not being catered for…These children could do extremely well but they do need the right environment and that’s what this will give them”.
Client: The Wherry School Trust / Mace
Architect: LSI Architects
Contractor: Kier Construction
Contract value: £6.5m
Photo credits: Richard Osborne Photography / AJA