Rio Architects begin expansion of Baytree SEN School

Now under construction, the expansion of Baytree SEN School, designed by Rio Architects will provide a new building to accommodate teaching, learning and specialist care facilities for children with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) needs from three to nineteen years and is the only school of this kind in North Somerset.

Located on the fringes of Clevedon, the building will be a passive feature nestled into the existing green landscape and surrounded by several tree species. When arriving on-site, visitors will be drawn by a covered walkway through a natural courtyard created around a cluster of preserved grade-A trees and into a warm and welcoming environment.

A single-storey building with a simple pitched roof design reflects a calm architectural approach of familiar shapes and forms that are domestic in scale and respectful of the surrounding context.

Cardiff-based architects, Rio, worked closely with key stakeholders and end-users, taking the time to fully understand the challenges faced by staff and pupils during the school day. A number of design and operational workshops were held throughout the design process to ensure the designs reflect a stimulating learning environment that caters for a variety of specialist care and treatment.

This resulted in a carefully considered masterplan designed to create secure, intimate and private external play areas. Space where pupils can enjoy learning and playing in the natural setting through woodland walks and pathways, immediately access classrooms and secure from public access and vehicles.

As well as catering for the learning needs of its children, the school will also provide facilities for public use, including a hydrotherapy pool and recreation hall.

The design of the building has been conceived to create a clear, legible and welcoming environment, which maximises the efficiency of space and considers the well-being of pupils and staff whilst paying deference to the quality and nature of the existing natural setting.

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