Durham County Council Sure Start and Children’s Centres

In October 2003 JDDK were appointed within the first phase of Durham County Council’s framework for delivery of Sure Start Children’s Centres. JDDK were lead consultants on three projects at schools across the county.

JDDK were then re-commissioned in phase 2 of the programme and for phase 3 became the only architects to be commissioned throughout the length of the overall programme. By 2011 JDDK had designed 15 Sure Start/Children’s Centres for Durham.

From the outset the client aspired to create innovative child care settings that inspired the children to grow and learn. At the beginning of the programme Paula Rae, services manager, attended a symposium held by the Reggio Emilia Children’s Research Centre with Nicola Watson and Stuart Franklin of JDDK. This injection of research based understanding of how children grow was to inspire the team for the next 8 years.

A collaborative approach to design development paid off and resulted in good value projects that exceeded the expectation of the settings. JDDK’s attitude of positive engagement with how clients use spaces and how their organisations function often led to lateral thinking and creative solutions.

Each centre had an individual brief which reflected the needs of the existing school combined with the aspirations of the Sure Start team. Each setting also had specific requirements in terms of numbers of children, existing facilities and existing building fabric condition.

The team within Durham County Council were delighted as projects were delivered in tight timescales with partnering contractors often including complex decanting and phased developments. Limited budgets were used to create exceptional schemes that made a big impact on the setting, allowing a generation of children within Durham to grow and learn.