New eco school for St Mary’s takes shape

A pioneering new eco building for a Derby primary school that was destroyed by fire is taking shape.

All of the five main single storey structures of St Mary’s Catholic Voluntary Academy’s building on the school’s Broadway site have been erected and the process of cladding them with cedar is well underway.

The installation of windows has begun along with the construction of the large central covered walkway which will connect the buildings.  A multi-use games area is also being created.

Painters and decorators will begin work in the coming weeks and the building is scheduled to be completed in late autumn.

The biophilic design focuses on connecting those inside the building – set to be the UK’s first biophilic school – with nature, with the goal of promoting physical and mental health.

As part of the unique scheme, the site will be planted with 96 new semi mature trees in late autumn.

St Mary’s original building, in Broadway, was destroyed by fire in October 2020 and the school has been based at St James House in Mansfield Road, Derby, since April 2021. Work started on the new building in February 2023.

Amanda Greaves, Executive Headteacher at St Mary’s, said: “It is so exciting following the progress of our wonderful new school and we are very much looking forward to returning to our permanent home on the Broadway site. We appreciate how much moving into our new building means to our whole school community and we would like to thank everyone who has supported us on this journey.”

Kevin Gritton, Chief Executive of the St Ralph Sherwin Trust, said: “It is fantastic to see work progressing well on the new school for St Mary’s. We are all excited to see the finished school, which promises to be a wonderful space for staff and children.”

Tilbury Douglas, a leading UK building, infrastructure, engineering and fitout company, is the main contractor for the project, which is a pilot for the Department for Education.

Tilbury Douglas’s Project Manager, Neil Holland, said: “Tilbury Douglas have delivered many school projects, and there’s no doubt that this school is a real precedent for quality and sustainability. Employing modern methods of construction has really aided this programme to move at pace, and we look forward to handing this project over to the school in the autumn.

All photos (apart from the cedar clad building photo) are by Matthew Ling Photography.