The pupils of Thomas Fairchild Community School in the London Borough of Hackney have returned to a brand new school.
Fire destroyed much of the primary school's original Victorian buildings in 2009. Avanti Architects have redeveloped the site with a new building very different from its predecessor. Each of the three floors - with early years on the ground floor and Key Stages 1 and 2 on the floors above - has a distinct identity.
Classrooms and specialist facilities such as IT, food technology, science and art are configured around open learning spaces. Transparency and fluid movement through the building all contribute to an effective learning environment. Glazing brought down to a child's seat height allows views and increases the sense of spaciousness.
At the heart of the ground floor a café and training area with IT facilities encourage parents and others in the local community to take part in the life of the school. The constraints of an inner-city site have been minimised by using roof terraces to provide both play and learning spaces.
The school has opened as a two form-entry school - but it has been carefully designed to adapt and expand over time. It could easily and economically be converted into three-form entry - or even into a secondary school with a specialist block added as a further storey.
The school has a brick base, with aluminium rain screen cladding above. With natural ventilation through stack effect, a high daylight factor and high insulation levels - coupled with an air source heat pump and photovoltaic panels. As a result the school has achieved BREEAM ‘very good'.