Birth and death of Newport High School 1972-2008.

September 9, 2009

Newport Comprehensive School Competition was won by Eldred Evans and David Shalev in 1968, Foster Associates, Brian Frost and Douglas Stephen & Partners were among the finalists. James Stirling was one of the judges.

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Extracts from winners report said that the building is organized around the house system in three tiers; lower school to the south; middle school; specialist teaching block and subject rooms to the north, running parallel to both. The halls and library/sixth form complexes terminate the system to east and west respectively.

The circulation was arranged in a gridiron pattern of movement throughout the school on two levels-covered and open walkways.

Covered east/west routes link all houses to one another and end in the library/hall complexes.

Covered north/south routes are for more frequent daily movements of pupils from bus dropping point to houses from form rooms to specialist teaching block. Open north/south route ends in outdoor teaching terraces.

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There were ten houses: upper school 4; lower school l4; sixth form1; staff1.

Each consisted of three south facing, flexible teaching area, an activity room adjoining two of the form bases and house dining room, all arranged around a protected courtyard into which they could extend.

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Although the house system was rigidly adhered to, architects considered that this would not inhibit different type of organization if required, as they thought that some form of identifiable grouping would always be required.

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* Above extracts and competition entry drawings abstracted from AJ of 24th January 1968.

Unfortunately, all these built in flexibilities did nothing to save the school from poor maintenance and deterioration and eventual premature destruction. An unloved and neglected building was almost hurriedly driven to death.

It was sad to see  intelligent educationalists themselves failing to see the folly they were committing by destroying this important building without any attempt to give it a new lease of life.

 

The organization, though much larger and complex, always reminded me of simplicity of Jacobson’s school at Munkegaardsl in Copenhagen (1952-56).

More photographs are available on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/iqbalaalam/sets/72157604618949581/

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11 Responses to “Birth and death of Newport High School 1972-2008.”

  1. Ang S Says:

    I managed to take some photos of the building during demolition – infortunately it was raining heavily, turning to snow! I’m hoping to return to get some more before it’s too late!

    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=360790&id=879245246&l=6492156484

    • winslowhub Says:

      Thanks for the message. I must say it is a sorry sight. It was very nice and brave of you to visit the site and specially in these weather conditions. The miserable weather adds a certain melancholy to your pictures and sums up the sad end of this sorry story.
      Thanks once again for sharing of the pictures.
      All the best.
      Iqbal

  2. Ang S Says:

    I thought that…I like the way the grass looks even greener tan normal but the building just looks greyer. This was my old school, so I spent many years there before it was demolished!

    I am trying to find a copy of the original Architect’s Journal article from 24th January 1968. My university library copy is missing, but I can get another copy of the article if I have the exact title and author.
    Can you please tell me the title, author and page numbers of the article if possible please?
    Thanks

    • winslowhub Says:

      I just typed a reply and pressed ‘ENTER’, just to see the whole thing disappear. Here I go again but if you find two replies don’t be baffled.
      As I said before .. I would be happy to photocopy my copy of the article and post it to you but unfortunately it is now lost in a large pile of papers.
      Since this article was covering a competition it is unlikely to have an authors name.
      I suggest you try RIBA catalogue by using building and architects name and try to find out the details of AJ Building Study they publish at the completion of important buildings. Failing that ask AJ to do the same for you and ask them for a copy.
      If and when I find my copy, I will contact you by Emailing you and will post you a copy.

      • Ang S Says:

        I’ve now managed to track down a copy, thank you! Rather, 2 copies now…one on it’s way from ILL, and a photocopy that was listed under the wrong title hidden in the archives of the local library!

      • winslowhub Says:

        I am glad you found the copies. Keep in touch.

  3. Bobert Says:

    The school has been levelled, aside from two structures; The ‘water feature’ & a retaining wall with staircase. Both structures look like they will be left forever more.

    Some of my many shots of the school, before, during & after demolition –

    Newport High School, Shot From Near St Davids Church Bettws. Newport, South Wales

    Bob.

    • winslowhub Says:

      Thanks. I saw the complete set on your site again. It is a good record of the last moments of school’s life. You must have worked hard to get such good pictures. I may link some of your photos to my site, if you don’t mind.
      Thanks once again. Wishing you all the best.

  4. Bobert Says:

    A belated “No problem linking to my shots.”

    Cheers, bob.

  5. lisa Says:

    I just walked down memory lane and find that I’m so disappointed to learn that this innovative building was brought to the ground. I went to school here and especially loved the tier system and the water features. It was special and left me with a life long love of architecture.

    • winslowhub Says:

      Dear Lisa, You were one of many who were sad to see this building go. Like you, I considered this as one of the most innovative school designs in this country. What makes me even more angry is to note the rubbish designs which are being used to replace these architectural gems they are so keen to destroy. At least the building has rewarded you with an interest worth having. Wishing you all the best. Iqbal.


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