Award category : Learning – Primary School Chisenhale Primary School Client: London Borough of Tower Hamlets Architect: RyderHKS Structural Engineer: Alan Conisbee Associates Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Anthony Judd Associates Main Contractor: Frederick Sage Co Ltd Contract Value: £815k In 2005 RyderHKS was appointed by London Borough of Tower Hamlets to upgrade the facilities for teaching and learning at Chisenhale Primary School, an aging London Schools Board (LSB) building in Bow, East London. At that time the School was in Special Measures. The brief was to provide a new accommodation wing, over two stories, comprising new visitor, reception, staff and senior management facilities including a senior leadership room. The School is situated in the Victoria Park Conservation Area, bounded by late Victorian residential streets. It occupies a corner site and the only available location for the new accommodation is the prominent corner frontage. The existing building is a typical LSB design dating back to the 1890’s. There are three tall stories each with central well lit halls surrounded by teaching accommodation. Administration and staff facilities are situated on cramped half levels between the Girls and Boys principle staircases. With changes in the provision and curriculum of education, the building has been increasingly unable to adapt to the demands on management and training that this brings. The new accommodation is conceived as a pavilion or folly, in its urban setting. It is intended to establish a strong visual relationship with the street as much as with the adjoining School. To delineate between old and new fabric it is clad in brass. It is separated from all existing fabric by a glass ribbon which lends emphasis to the appearance of the brass object. The existing boundary wall is continuous around the site, embodying the character and history of the School. By preserving this wall and building off it, this gives greater emphasis to the presence of the pavilion on the street and also to the importance of sensitively connecting new with old. The new entrance slides in behind the boundary wall so that it is both discrete and secure and offers a glimpse of the new accommodation emerging from within. In this sense the boundary wall not only defines inside from outside but mediates between new and old, its character more clearly exposed. The client’s ambitions at the outset were to create a fully accessible environment, raising the profile of the School and strengthening its presence in the local community. At entrance level there are new reception, administrative and child support facilities. An interview room is provided for parents and children, together with a fully accessible sick bay, wc and shower facility. The provision of this new accommodation has enabled the School to re-allocate areas within the existing building. This has given greater freedom for teaching and learning with spaces for variant group sizes of 15 or less, smaller breakout zones and one to one teaching areas. The new accommodation at the upper floor level comprises a general staff room with an adjoining senior leadership room. Both rooms benefit from the very good light and views that the corner site provides. Windows have been carefully placed for specific views or for specific lighting conditions within the rooms. The general staff room has even top lighting over the kitchen and small group areas and there are feature corner windows offering good views of outdoor activity areas. The staff leadership room has a large south-facing feature window. This has a commanding presence over the main entrance which places the relationship between school leadership and the local community firmly in view. This is considered by the School to be a positive and concrete symbol of the School’s recovery from Special Measures. Within the existing ground floor hall a new classroom has been introduced to increase the provision for early years learning. It sits as a discrete entity within the hall, with the ability to open up through a large lobby into the existing teaching areas. This room benefits from borrowed natural light through the existing glass screen separating the teaching spaces from the Hall. Additionally, one full façade is clad in translucent polycarbonate panels. The new facilities also provide a fully integrated ICT and services infrastructure. The general staff room is fitted with an interactive whiteboard and wi-fi network access, creating an informal space in which to prepare for lessons. This space can also double up as a group training room. All new rooms are naturally ventilated with large colour-coded opening vent panels in the upper floor general staff room. Externally, these panels are concealed with a perforated brass mesh to maintain the consistency of appearance of the pavilion.


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