A Midlands school is celebrating having received planning permission for a state-of-the-art, purpose built performing arts facility.
The building, which has been designed by One Creative Environments (One), provides a wealth of facilities that will benefit students at Christopher Whitehead Language College (CWLC) and Sixth Form in Worcester.
One, which has a Midlands HQ and a London office, has designed a contemporary and innovative building which was fully supported by the planners for its sustainability principles. The form of the building was inspired by the movement of dance, and in particular how a dancer can be held effortlessly in the air. In this design, the weight of bells are disguised in an elegant bell tower structure that people walk underneath. The tower is now affectionately known as “the ballerina tower.”
This purpose built educational facility will provide a performing arts and multi-functional facility for teaching and will combine music, drama, dance and vocational studies. It will help students to learn about business and there is a radio station, booking office, hair salon and small kitchen and servery. Marketing of events will also provide opportunities for students to understand more about business promotion.
The addition of the bell tower, which is attracting private funding, means that CWLC will be the only state school in the country to have such facilities on the school site. This will enable the teaching of bell-ringing which has wide ranging educational benefits including in the teaching of art, science and mathematics. Bell-ringing sheet music is based on mathematical formulas and requires mental agility for synchronisation and the combination of the bells. It will also help improve students’ physical agility, co-ordination, reaction time and balance, improve muscle endurance and cardiovascular fitness as well as help to keep this art form alive.
A range of measures have been put in place in consideration of the local area: through intelligent building design with sound proofing and roof louvres that remain closed during teaching, restricted teaching times and the sound will be controlled by physically ‘muffling’ the bells so that the chime can only be heard by the students through the use of a computer and headphones. The bells will only be allowed to ring audibly to celebrate special local and National events, under the supervision of experienced bell ringers, for 12 days a year for an hour on each of this occasions between 10am and 6pm.
Stunning views will be provided across Worcester, which includes the Cathedral, from the viewing platform of the tower with local overlooking avoided by the careful positioning of opaque screening glass.
Neil Morris, Headteacher of Christopher Whitehead Language College and Sixth Form, said: “This is fantastic news. Our school motto is in ‘Pursuit of Excellence’ and this entire performing arts centre will make an incredible difference to our students and the breadth of what we can offer through the curriculum.”
“This is also a great cultural and educational opportunity to become the first state school to have a non-intrusive, sound proofed, beautiful bell tower. I would like to thank our designers, One Creative Environments Ltd, for such an iconic building that will inspire our students and for working with us to ensure that this facility is an asset for the community and does not impact on our neighbours.”
Mark Martin, Director of One Creative Environments Ltd. and the designer behind the building, said: “We are delighted that planning consent has been granted. We hope that this innovative design inspires future generations and becomes an asset to the City in teaching and profile.”
“This is another wonderful educational project for One to be involved in and has gained national support. It is great to be part of the protecting of an art form such as bell-ringing but also in delivering a scheme that supports so many other aspects of the arts and business.”
“The proposed bell tower has already attracted interest for private sector investment and we believe this will be a fantastic facility to benefit the local community.”
Pictured: One Creative Environments’ design of the performing arts building including the bell tower.