Landmark wing for Victorian school

Polychromatic school extension inserted into tight urban context

by Amy 21 October 2011
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    Clapham Manor Primary School had become a victim of its own success; pupil numbers had doubled, placing considerable pressure on the successful delivery of the curriculum.

    dRMM was asked to consider the provision of six additional classrooms so that all learning spaces achieved Department for Education standards. Working in close collaboration with key representatives from the school, governors and the local authority, the brief was developed into a 'masterplan' to address deficiencies across the entire built environment.

    A new wing would form a new entrance, provide secure access, an administrative hub, staff facilities, disabled access and four learning spaces, whilst the Victorian Board School would receive a light touch, removing later additions and providing new toilets.

    The potential for a unique identity developed as part of the evolution of a design that sought to provide a new wing of high quality that would stand shoulder to shoulder between two great exemplars: the Board School and the Grade II listed Odd Fellows Hall. The façade, inspired by post-war school buildings (such as Kingsdale School), redefined curtain walling with the benefits of modern technology and a desire to create a character appropriate for a primary school.

    The ambition for the façade was that it would not only be a bold insulated external face but also a useable internal wall, providing bookshelves and pin-able surfaces to display pupil work. In contrast to the strict Victorian classrooms, the design sought to vary views at different heights for all ages and frame the surrounding context.

    The contextual colours of the surrounding buildings and landscape informed the colour palette of the façade. The building transforms as the colours shift from the reds and yellows on Stonhouse Street to the greens and blues on the playground side. Staff and students were involved in developing and selecting the preferred colour scheme. The unique identity is therefore a function of these responses rather than as a requirement of the brief.

    The completion date of the project was July 2009.

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