Church Lawton ASC School – Projects

Church Lawton ASC School

Client: Cheshire East Council / National Autistic Society
Sector: Education
Size: 60-day places
Value: £3.4 million
Location: Cheshire
Status: Complete
Internal Team: Catherine Mulley
Stuart Goodwin

This specialist school for children with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) required an in-depth understanding as to how pupils with the condition respond to space, light and scale to ensure a supportive and empowering learning environment.

Working with the Council’s educational psychologist and the National Autistic Society (NAS) the scheme involved remodelling and a large extension to the existing building which was a vacant 1960s single storey primary school.

Key principles were derived from the ‘Designing for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder’ School Design Guide, which Pozzoni developed on behalf of the NAS in 2015. Three core standards were implemented throughout which focused on designing sensory sensitive environments to:

  • reduce anxiety and encourage calm
  • respond to heightened senses
  • provide a safe a and functional teaching environment

It was important to clearly segregate different parts of the school for spatial order and circulation which was carried out by clear wayfinding and colour coding throughout.

The building extension now hosts new teaching spaces where scale, orientation, light, acoustics and ventilation have been designed to suit the acute senses of the students. The new classrooms have acoustic ceilings and contain individual learning rooms, quiet rooms, secure storage rooms and classroom-specific features behind lockable shutters.

In response to the requirement for provision of flexible spaces, each classroom has direct access to its own sheltered secure external play area where pupils can take part in a range of external sensory educational exercises.