Kay Elliott completes first phase of the Ellacombe School master plan
The design for Ellacombe Primary School’s Foundation Unit in Torquay provides an exciting and encouraging learning environment for children aged from two to five. It is the first phase in a £2.75M, four-phase masterplan developed from an open brief that trusted the Kay Elliott Architects' creativity and architectural interpretation of matters concerning sustainability, educational outcome and whole-school cohesion.
The £0.6M Foundation Unit has been designed to create a welcoming education and assist with behavioural management for a school with a significant intake of children with emotional and social problems. It consists of a double-height, open-plan teaching area connected directly to a green walled garden with extensive all-weather cover. The masterplan addresses whole-school issues, with the new Foundation Unit setting a positive standard, providing improved stability, interaction and learning in a sustainably built facility.
The architects remodeled the site to respond to a reduction in planned admission for the younger years and designed an independent building for an underused area of the grounds, with provision made for future connection to the main school. The ground floor of the building is largely open-plan teaching space and the southern façade includes sliding doors accessing outdoor teaching areas. Blurring the distinction between indoor and outdoor learning was important in the design. The outdoor area resembles a walled secret garden and contains trees and plants along with built-in lesson planning including rhomboid seating platforms for group activities.
This is an inclusive learning environment, with anti-bullying measures incorporated through visible WCs and includes interesting spaces; a wet zone, book corner and dressing-up areas. Feedback from the children demonstrates increased confidence. Ellacombe’s head, Mark Musty, says: “The whole school community is delighted”. The architects felt environmental sustainability was important; the building provides maximum natural lighting through a large south-facing glazed façade with a passive ventilation design via wind catchers on a highly insulated roof.