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.
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.
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.
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.
* 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/