Planning permission for Abergavenny School in Monmouthshire, designed by Rio Architects for Monmouthshire County Council, has been granted. 

The new school near Abergavenny town centre will comprise two buildings, a three-storey lower school and a three-storey upper school for students up to year 4, and pupils from year 5 to 13. The plans will deliver the new 3-19 school whilst maintaining the operation of the existing school and the Abergavenny Leisure Centre. Following the completion of the new school, the current building will be demolished, making way for new sports facilities for the school and the local community.

The site has a veteran oak tree of high biodiversity and ecological value and the layout of the new school has been designed specifically to protect and retain this important natural feature. The building form will step back around the tree, forming a protective courtyard around is as a focal point.

Jamie Yeoman, Associate at Rio, said: “The new school is a significant project for Abergavenny town. We hope it not only delivers a 21st-century educational building but also provides an asset to the community. We are honoured to have designed this is once in a generation development, and we would like to thank the client and design teams who worked tirelessly to realise the design.”

Rio Architects and McCann and Partners have collaborated to facilitate a net-zero carbon design through on-site renewable electricity maximised through photovoltaic panels.

The project will provide a secure and sustainable environment for the school and support the well-being of staff and pupils by maximising natural daylight and views of natural scenery. With the school sitting deferentially within its beautiful setting, it will exist within the landscape rather than on it. The design approach will create a cascading effect as the building forms step down from the dominant backdrop of the sizeable tree line to the north of the site leading down to the lower school in the south.

The setting also encourages the connection between internal and external spaces, stimulating curriculum and recreational spaces, enhancing the ecological features and maximising the opportunity for staff and pupils to interact with the natural environment. Most importantly, the development will enable the local authority to continue to deliver first-class school education for the communities in and around Abergavenny.

Rio Architects is currently working on multiple school projects across south Wales, with a recently completed development of the STEAM Academy in Pencoed and Bryncelynnog Comprehensive School in Pontypridd, which is due to start on-site at the end of the year.