Nishkam High School, Birmingham

A hands-on partnership with the community

Free Schools are rarely out of the headlines, often for the wrong reasons. 

But BAM built a new 700-pupil multi-faith, Sikh ethos high school in Birmingham with a real, positive difference.

The project was driven by the principle of ‘Nishkam’: a philosophy of serving others without expectation or recognition.

This is reflected in the fact that the community has provided ten per cent of the labour and materials, free of charge, as an act of devotion to the school.

Project details

  • Client: Nishkam School Trust
  • Architect: BAM Design Architectural
  • Quantity Surveyor: Gleeds Cost Management Ltd
  • Project Management: Gleeds Advisory Services Ltd
  • Structural Engineer: BAM Design Structural
  • M&E Consultants: BAM Design Services
  • Value: £8.4 million
  • Completion date: August 2014

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Light and space: a spiritual environment

BAM Design detailed the architectural, structural and services remit for the main building: a neo-classical design, featuring a grand concave entrance to welcome pupils to the school and give immediate views of a large triangular spiritual space.

The spiritual space – central to the school’s philosophy – is flooded with natural light from a transparent roof.

This space can be seen from all the classrooms, assembly, performance and dining rooms.

Integral to the community

Working with a volunteer workforce was initially a challenge, but ultimately proved extremely positive, according to BAM Project Manager Paul Hayfield: “It’s been one of the joys of the project, and they’ve been a pleasure to work with”.

And from day one there was an open avenue for discussion between client, workforce, contractor and end-user, with the school’s executive principal Terry Green heavily involved.

“Right from the first engagement meetings there has been an open, informative and transparent relationship between us all. It really has worked well,” he says.

Having completed the main building, BAM is now converting the former temporary school in an old industrial unit on the site into a sports hall and gym facilities.