DQI enabled the client and design team to evaluate progress of the project at various stages in the design of St Nicholas Church of England Primary school and helped to ensure that the project was on track to meet stakeholder aspirations.

St Nicholas Church of England School is a relocation of an existing village school into new enlarged accommodation. The original Victorian school only had one class room and a small hall which couldn’t accommodate the needs of the curriculum or the expanding intake of children. A new build was required in order to provide modern facilities and more space for the school. The school was relocated to purpose built facilities two miles away from the original school.

The architect understood the sensitivity needed to handle the relocation, and the need to engage end users and the wider community in the development of the design. DQI was used as part of the consultative process.

The whole building is designed around a curvy corridor which runs the full width of the building to allow for easy expansion of the school at a later date. The four classrooms, special needs room, IT suite, school hall, catering facilities and administrative offices all lead off from this central corridor. As a result, the school doesn’t feel boxy or institutional but open and flexible allowing activities going on around the building to spill out naturally into this central space. The neutral colour pallet is brightened by the integration of stained glass windows designed by a local artist with the help of children from the school, part of Essex Councils art in architecture programme.

Essex County Council used DQI as a way to introduce a robust and consistent framework of evaluation to measure design quality in new build public projects in Essex. The school is now the vibrant hub of a growing residential community in this South Essex village.

DQI offers a peg to hang evaluation on, to measure success, draw lessons and feed into improvements of processes in the development of future projects – it provides a frame that consolidates something that should be done anyway but so often isn’t” (Project Manager).