Cotham School

A supportive 'spine' brings coherence to a disjointed school site

Under the BSF programme, we worked with Skanska to improve existing accommodation and design new facilities for art, science, PSHE, humanities and MFL at Cotham School in Bristol.

Design and Technology is housed in a new single-storey building, giving the school a new student entrance and a stronger presence on Cotham Road. A covered external circulation ‘spine’ connects the new build with the existing, unifying piecemeal buildings and creating a strong façade. The spine simplifies student movement across the site and provides space for a range of external sports, teaching and break-time facilities as well as a comfortable informal setting for social interaction.

In July 2008 CABE reviewed the Cotham design and awarded the scheme a rating of ‘Excellent’. The panel commented, ‘This is an accomplished design on a challenging site. The response to the brief shows good judgment as to which buildings should remain and which should be demolished... The clearer definition of open spaces across the site and the stronger access strategy, which pays due regard to links with the adjacent sixth form block, is to be applauded... Overall, this is a very successful proposal for which the team should be commended’.


2008CABE: Excellent Rating


ClientSkanska; Bristol City Council

Total valueConfidential

CompletionFeb 2011

Area14,000 m2 (incl. existing buildings)



Structural engineerArup

Building ServicesArup

LandscapeMacGregor Smith