by Jenny 08 December 2010
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    Walters and Cohen create innovative new school interior on limited budget

    Towers Junior School is original and innovative in form and function; makes effective use of colour; is accessible and easy to use; and meets the desire for fantastic new learning spaces.

    The project has opened up spaces within the school that had been partitioned off from one another, providing two new flexible, shared spaces that are ICT rich, comfortable, fun, and each large enough to accommodate two classes together. Each shared space contains large, movable 'amphitheatre' style seating, a small group space, a wet area, ICT and resources.

    The innovation is the easy movement between the small-sized classrooms and the central shared space. With the variety of spaces, teachers have the option of different pedagogical models. Personalised learning is enabled and pupils can explore shared and independent learning methods to find out what suits them best. The shared spaces are located such that they are passively supervised from the classrooms, so children feel safe even as they start to explore independent learning.

    These 'heart' spaces and the other new facilities - music room, art room and animation room - all respond directly to the consultation we ran with staff and students. The colour scheme, fabrics and furniture came from shared ideas between the architects and client, including pupils. The bright blue appears in the furniture, painted on the walls in murals and at the new entrance to the school, giving a sense of continuity.

    Headteacher Marilyn Whiskherd says, "the design is totally innovative. I don't know any other primary school that has a purpose-built animation room. And the music room, which looks out onto two music courtyards, is pure innovation of design. The lighting, sound-proofing and glass features to classrooms preserve the open plan feel but cater for the hearing impaired."

    This project was completed on a very low budget compared with other primary school projects, and the design was conceived such that the shared spaces could be created while the school was shut, thereby meeting the client's request to avoid the cost of temporary accommodation. Two new platform lifts mean that the building is now fully accessible.

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