Designed by Alsop Sparch, the new Michael Faraday Community School, which opened its doors to its first pupils on the 30th September 2010, is the flagship project for the regeneration of the Aylesbury estate in the London Borough of Southwark. Following an extensive consultation process involving design workshops with the head teacher, staff and pupils the innovative school design takes the form of a distinctive circular building.
The new school will provide nursery, primary school, adult education and community facilities in 3021 sq m arranged over two floors that maximises the site for outdoor learning. It features a diverse range of flexible learning spaces capable of supporting different teaching and learning styles.
In the circular main building teaching space is arranged as a ring of cellular accommodation around the ‘Living Room’ – a large open-plan flexible learning environment. Described as the ‘hub’ in the original brief; the headteacher’s vision for the new building became the main organising concept for the design. The new school includes dedicated classrooms and a large art studio that supports the onsite adult learning programme, and are configured to ensure they can be used by the school as additional teaching space.
The new school has been designed so that every classroom has the use of an outdoor learning environment. Younger learners are accommodated on the ground floor with direct access out into the landscape. A continuous external balcony provides external teaching spaces to the upper classrooms for older learners and provides cover to the outdoor learning spaces below.
The ‘Studio’, designed for performance and presentation at the centre of the Living Room allows noisy activity to take place without disrupting activity in the rest of the school. The lid of the Studio forms an inclined amphitheatre space used for larger group work and year group assemblies. The main building is linked by a canopy to a smaller stand-alone pavilion, ‘The Ballroom’, which contains the school’s dining and main hall facilities and is available for community use.
The school grounds are extensively landscaped providing hard and soft play areas together with growing gardens, natural habitat and a ‘Dry River Bed’. The new Multi-Use Games Area will be shared with the local community and bore holes beneath the pitch form the Ground Source Heat Pump that contributes to the building achieving a predicted 20% carbon reduction and BREEAM ‘very good’ rating.