01 Aug 19 by Simon Wheeler

Specialist Centre catering for Autistic Students – Monteray House, City College Plymouth

Vickery Holman were requested by City College Plymouth to design and project manage the building of a new teaching space specifically for autistic students. The College’s requirements were to provide independent learning facilities for eight pupils. The pupils would require one to one tuition and development of life and workplace skills. The teaching environment was to be provided within City College’s Kings Road site. In order to meet the pupil’s specific requirements the building required to be independent of the main College and provide a domestic/homely feel to minimise distress.

Vickery Holman produced a design which provided a domestic environment comprising 4 No. equally spaced teaching areas, each to accommodate 2 pupils together with their dedicated learning support. Each space was able to be adapted to suit individuals. Independent living/domestic environment layout was provided on one storey comprising kitchen facilities, sink, washing machine, dishwasher, electric cooker and storage for iron/ironing board. The other storey comprised of flexible artistic teaching space. A “comfortable” ambience was achieved by including soft seating as well as table and four chairs to each room with soft lighting and calming room colours were also used. A sensory room was also provided.

Further requirements were for external gardening areas and a vegetable patch, with level/disabled access required to all areas together with a lift. The site allocated by the College for the Centre was a dis-used oil storage area, which was independent of the College and allowed disabled access.

The build was achieved in two stages. The first stage was to undertake the removal of the existing structure/services which involved removal of asbestos and use of waste management companies, followed by the building of the new teaching centre. Management of the site and safety was paramount due to the new centre being close to the main thoroughfare to the College and works being undertaken whilst the College was in operation.

The new build was completed on schedule and within budget.