A beacon for Deptford

Tuesday 14 Aug 2012

FILM FEATURE: Tidemill Academy and Deptford Lounge in Lewisham

Last year, Pollard Thomas Edwards architects were recognised as winners of the WAN AWARDS 2011 Education Sector with their shimmering golden meshwork concept for Tidemill Academy. Last month, WAN returned to the project in Deptford, Lewisham to gauge how the now completed scheme was faring in the wider Deptford Regeneration Project and speak to some of the key players in this successful education scheme.

Tidemill Academy is an urban education facility for children aged 4-12 set in the heart of Deptford, a buzzing multicultural area of south east London; children enrolled in the school speak over 30 different languages. Prior to starting the concept for Tidemill Academy, Pollard Thomas Edwards architects hosted a series of interactive workshops with students from the existing school, encouraging them to be imaginative with their design ideas.

The result is an inventive play space in the central courtyard with nets, tunnels, low-rise climbing walls and undulating ramps over which the children tumble and play. Mark Elms, the charismatic headteacher at Tidemill Academy explains that there have been less recorded injuries on the new playscape that in the run-of-the-mill playground of before.

Generous classrooms and naturally-lit teaching spaces open out onto this main courtyard with flexible walls and windows, affording a range of engaging education facilities to keep the children focussed and to offer a number of alternative methods of teaching. Ingenious storage facilities and lighting options enliven the spaces and high levels of security have been implemented.

These additional security measures are part and parcel of the brief for Tidemill Academy as it is a dual-use facility. After school hours, during weekends and over the school holidays the building opens up to the general public with a range of exciting workshops, exercise classes and education programmes, all separated from the main teaching areas by clever architectural arrangement.

Many of the public events occur in the vibrantly-coloured Deptford Lounge, a welcoming library space with generous facilities for the public to work quietly, catch up on their reading, or engage in educational projects. There are also the rooftop ball court encased in golden mesh and the main sports hall which features a large-scale window to naturally illuminate the interior space, avoiding the ‘black box’ effect.

In this exclusive film, WAN speaks to Philippa Lau-Brown, Deptford Regeneration Project Manager from Lewisham Council, Mark Elms, Headteacher at Tidemill Academy, and Andrew Beharrell, Executive Director at PTEa and lead architect on the project, along with some short insights from children at the school. WAN worked with media partners Really Bright Media on the project.

See above for the shorter cut or below for the full feature film.

Sian Disson
News Editor

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