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Mid-Century Modern

18 Oct 2023
Design, Construction & Delivery Stage

How Post-War Schools become Schools for the Future
Simon Innes, Architect & Founding Director, Innes Associates

The UK built some of the most innovative post-war school buildings in Europe; now we are considering their demolition. Over the past 10 years I have walked around many such sites from the 40s, 50s and 60s, spoken to headteachers and pupils who work and study in the environment they create. I have contributed to projects for their partial remodelling and rebuilding. Despite the overheating, asbestos, and single glazing there are some remarkable designs using a standardized “kit of parts”. Many of these buildings could form a valuable part of the UK’s future school estate, but their re-use is challenging.

This talk presents examples from the most interesting designs from this period and explains the principles behind them. It distinguishes the common shortcomings from the innovations and explains in what ways their performance exceeds that of our latest output. I will also speculate about a new way of looking at their upgrading and remodelling, outlining an approach that could preserve their best qualities while meeting the new challenges of net zero.

University of Liverpool School of Law & Social Justice – Creative Reactivation of an Existing Building
Paul Swarbrick, Architectural Director, Ryder Architecture & Andy Murphy, Head of Capital Projects, University of Liverpool

This presentation brings together client and design team to discuss the University of Liverpool School of Law and Social Justice project. Raising discussion on the design process and how the differing stakeholders worked together and addressed complications throughout.

The £16.5m project involved the consolidation of the existing fragmented schools into a combined fit for purpose facility. Complete transformation of the old 1960’s concrete Cypress Building into a new state of the art facility for the School of Law and Social Justice. It enabled the creation of a new strong identity for the school with enhanced presence and sense of arrival at the heart of the university campus.

The design involved a range of innovative and adaptable environments including multi volume collaborative and social spaces to complement improved teaching, lecture and academic staff facilities. A transparent and vibrant heart providing the school with a strong sense of unity that nurtures collaborative working and learning. The heart space also enhances the internal environment of the building as a whole, supporting the wellbeing and satisfaction of the building users. Enhancements to the building envelope deliver improvements in user comfort and operational energy demand which support the university’s long term carbon and user satisfaction goals.


Chris Newton, Account Leader - Education - Arcadis
Simon Innes, Founding Director - Innes Associates
Paul Swarbrick, Architectural Director - Ryder Architecture
Dave Harding, Managing Director - University of Liverpool Construction Company Special Projects



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