Wintringham Primary Academy, St Neots building design, dRMM Architects English education architecture photos

Wintringham Primary Academy, St Neots

29 May 2022

Location: St Neots, Cambridgeshire, southeast England, United Kingdom

Design: dRMM Architects

Wintringham Primary Academy, St Neots, Cambridgeshire

Photos by Hufton + Crow Photography

Wintringham Primary Academy, St Neots Design

Jury Report

The school is one of the first pieces of social infrastructure to be built of the new settlement at Wintringham and will eventually sit at the heart of an emerging community. As such this is pioneering building, creating a bold intervention at the centre of the masterplan.

This building form may seem at first sight to be a wilful shape in a flat landscape, but the school has a clear front that will eventually relate to the town square and to other buildings identified in the masterplan. A series of more community-focussed rooms are brought to this frontage, including the hall, a flexible room and other front of house spaces which can be offered for yoga and karate classes and public meetings.

Wintringham Primary Academy, St Neots, Cambridgeshire

The school is very much designed around learning and the child: every space has been considered as a place for learning. Extending the secure line to the plot boundary has liberated space for teaching to spill out from the classrooms at ground floor. Around the fringes of the school are a series of outside gardens, playgrounds and enclosed areas, thought of as extensions of the internal teaching spaces. Children’s lockers and boot racks have been arranged around the edges of the perimeter, saving internal space.

Wintringham Primary Academy, St Neots, Cambridgeshire

As part of the forest school ethos, at the heart of all this is a sheltered internal garden that is visible as soon as one enters, foregrounded by a green carpet that matches the landscape beyond precisely. This gives each classroom twin aspects onto planted external spaces and allows cross-ventilation.

A clear journey is established through the school around this internal garden, culminating in the final year 6 classroom, positioned over the entrance, with a view across to the Parish Church in at the heart of the market town of St Neots, to which Wintringham forms an extension.

Wintringham Primary Academy, St Neots, Cambridgeshire

The building impressed on a number of levels:


The school clearly results from close working between the Executive Head, Tracy Brydon, dRMM and the contractor to achieve something that is clearly greater than the sum of the constraints involved in procuring a new school in the state sector.


The design demonstrates real imagination in maximising the utility of the space, with circulation spaces efficiently pressed into educational use. Intelligent use of materials and space maximise the extent and variety of teaching spaces. Detailing of classrooms are well-judged to support activities and natural materials reflects the teaching ethos. The framing arrangement and efficient use of CLT wall and floor panels has provided the best teaching spaces for the available budget.


The measured energy consumption of this building is better than predicted by a significant margin, to situate it well beyond the RIBA 2030 benchmark. The project is also the best performer for whole-life carbon considerations, and has exceeded the RIBA 2030 benchmark.

The building material considerations are exemplified by the use of engineered timber for most structural elements, thereby using timber where it truly matters. Furthermore, the project exemplifies consideration and application of research findings, with particular attention paid to biophilic design principles, and the enhancement of attention in educational environments with the use of timber.

The building’s siting as a trigger project has also served to enhance the biodiversity of the surrounding settlement currently being developed (170% net increase). Overall, the clear distinctions made in these assessments presents this project as the worthy winner of this year’s RIBA East Sustainability Award.

Wintringham Primary Academy, St Neots, Cambridgeshire

Wintringham Primary Academy – Property Information

Title: Wintringham Primary Academy
RIBA region: East
Architect practice: dRMM Architects
Date of completion: October 2020
Date of occupation: October 2020
Client company name: Cambridgeshire County Council and Diamond Learning Partnership Trust
Project city/town: St Neots, Cambridgeshire, England

Contract value: £11,000,000.00
Gross internal area: 3,615.00 m²
Net internal area: 2,341.00 m²
Cost per m²: £3,043.00 / m²
Contractor company name: Morgan Sindall


Structural Engineers (superstructure): Engenuiti
Structural Engineer (sub-structure and civils): Peter Dann Consulting Engineers
Main Contractor: Morgan Sindall
Masterplan Developer: Urban+Civic
Services Engineer: Roger Parker Associates
Cost Consultant: Morgan Sindall / Faithful & Gould
BREEAM Assessor: Stroma
Planning Consultant: Turley
Landscape Design: Bradley Murphy Design
CLT Supplier: KLH UK


• RIBA Regional Award
• RIBA East Sustainability award

Photographs: Hufton + Crow Photography


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Wintringham Primary Academy St Neots Building images / information received from the Royal Institute of British Architects

Location: St Neots, Cambridgeshire, south east England, UK

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