Located between St. Pancras and Euston stations in Central London, Edith Neville Primary School has been housed in sub-standard, temporary accommodation since it opened in 1972. The re-building of the school, nursery and children’s centre forms the first phase of Camden’s new £89m mixed-use, regeneration scheme centred around a new public open spaces, community facilities and 130 new homes.
A Manifesto for Learning
We worked collaboratively with the school community and local authority to develop a ‘manifesto’ that set out the key objectives for the new educational environments. Working with the school, we considered how we could design spaces that would best facilitate the educational objectives: to develop a design that the school community would feel was a good place to be and which they could identify with as being uniquely their school.
Family Scale learning
The school provides an essential form of social interaction for many parents and it was an important part of the brief that the new school building welcomed families in. We developed the idea of a family-scale courtyard: ‘an oasis’ in the centre of the school site that would welcome families into the heart of the school and provide access to the halls, a central gallery area and children’s centre. The courtyard provides access to all year-group spaces and avoids parents having to drop-off and pick-up siblings in different year groups in different locations or playgrounds around the school site.
A landscape setting
The design for Edith Neville is drawn from its landscape setting and as an extension to the park. Our design acts as a veil to the surrounding landscape: a filigree envelope formed from a perforated screen that provides both a sense of protection to the pupils inside the school as well as a sense of visual permeability across the park from the outside. A design that acts as an extension to the park: both physically and perceptively.
‘The proposal for the school building, external spaces and the site perimeter is a highly bespoke design that responds to a complex and challenging brief. The proposed design is a contextually sensitive and innovative response to the design concept of a school as an extension of its parkland setting that uses both building and boundary treatments as a foil to the landscape. The layered façade provides depth to the elevations and supports the concept of the site and building as an extension to the park landscape.’
(LB Camden Planning Officer)
Openings in the elevation are strategically located to provide a series of long and short views from activity spaces inside the school through to key axial views through parkland and into the adjacent street pattern, providing a landscape quality to the internal spaces.
Inside the school’s boundary, the spaces were planned around promoting inclusive external play and as a set of inside and outside spaces that could enrich the pupil’s health and wellbeing as well as the formal curriculum. The design included an external learning environment adjacent to every classroom and a series of internal and external break-out spaces that provide for different scales of space for different forms of teaching and learning outside the formal classroom environment.
School as Gallery
The main circulation between the front entrance and the hall was deliberately widened to become a gallery where pupil’s large-scale art work can be hung: this space has full-height glazing onto the family-scale courtyard that will provide further opportunities to bring parents into the heart of the school.
Equally, each of the classrooms has its own storage and service wall that features a ‘shopfront’ to the internal circulation areas within the school allowing each class group the opportunity to form their own ‘display’ to the rest of the school community.
- Client: London Borough of Camden
- Date: 2015 -
- Contract Value: £10.5m
- Design Team: Nick Hayhurst, Jonathan Nicholls, Jamie Wakeford, Amy Waite, Rory Lean, Mariko Whittaker, Antonis Papamichael, Bronya Meredith
- Project Manager: LB Camden (Mark Hopson)
- Employer's Agent: Capital Property & Construction
- Landscape Design: Howard Miller Design
- Quantity Surveyor: Currie & Brown
- Principal Designer: Currie & Brown
- Structural Engineer: Price & Myers
- M+E Engineer: Max Fordham
- Fire Consultant: Exova
- Contractor: Neilcott Construction