Pupils from Sussex Road School see their ideas put into practice
The key elements of the brief were provided to us by the pupils of the school. This was a defining part of the experience; working with the children as a client rather than just consulting with them, and was an arrangement initiated by the Sorrell Foundation, which was very much supported by the school.
The brief was to improve the entrance space, to provide a space for people to meet, for improved reception to enable space for children to sleep over, and a place to look down at colleagues from. They wanted secret passages. They wanted their head teacher to be able to see them in the playground and make sure they were not naughty. They wanted their building to be tactile and intimate. East worked with the children to deliver these qualities and designed six new classrooms adjacent to the entrance building to replace dilapidated classroom huts. The staff were keen to maintain play space.
East delivered a building that embodied the influence of the pupils and its community. By providing a drawing to encourage people to pay 65p for a clay tile, over fifteen thousand pounds was raised. By engaging the children in a process of branding the building facade with the bees, acorns and oak leaves, an intimacy and sense of ownership was achieved. By involving the children in all stages of design and construction, a building and variety of play spaces were provided that heighten the experience of learning in an environment that relates to outside spaces. A rooftop learning space offers a delightful view of the Kent Countryside. accessed by a secret stair. More play space was achieved rather than less through careful planning. The first floor spaces were varied in height for enhanced experience; giving a feeling of an attic space with a view of trees through the window. A first floor balcony brings young artists close to the trees. Each face of the building and its associated outdoor learning environment offers different spatial and textural qualities, to enhance the feeling of being part of a wider context, within an intimate and safe setting.