The Hazelwood School for the Multiple Sensory Impaired in Glasgow, UK took top honors in the 2008 Design Share competition this year. The school was designed by Gordon Murry + Alan Dunlop architects.
As Tiffany Green reports in her Design Share commentary, "Hazelwood caters to 60 students with multiple disabilities, aged from 2 to 19. Each student has a combination of two or more of the following impairments: visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive. The design focused on creating a safe, stimulating environment for pupils and staff. The architect set out to eliminate any institutional feel and worked to avoid conventional details, creating a tailored design that incorporates visual, aural and tactile clues. The school is set within a landscaped green adjacent to a large public park, as is surrounded by mature lime and beach trees . The building snakes through the site, curving around the existing trees, creating a series of small garden spaces and maximizing the potential for more intimate outdoor teaching (learning?) environments. The choice of materials was of great importance. The architect developed a palette of highly textured natural materials that are stimulating to touch and smell. Naturally weathering timber, reclaimed slate tiles and zinc were used on the exterior.
The school’s head teacher says: “When our children leave this school, they will not go into jobs or go and live in their own flat or house- they will always need to be supported. Adults who are blind and have learning difficulties can lead passive lives. But the more independence they have, the more choices they will be able to make and the more stimulating their lives will be.”