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Case study: Lace Hill Academy

New single-form primary academy by Woods Hardwick fits in with the local community

Posted by Stephanie Broad | November 26, 2015 | Bricks & mortar

The design for a new single form entry primary school, Lace Hill, needed to include a nursery and community hall. The aim was to provide a purpose built which ‘fits in’ within the local environment and is beneficial to the wider community.

The school is at the heart of the community, teaching the current generations, but has been designed with the ability to adapt to changes and accommodate the growing future community. 

Building within the community

Given the project’s proximity to the adjacent housing, the architecture had to retain a domestic scale and proportion, and at the same time maintain its own identity. Mark Appleyard, Director at architect Woods Hardwick, explains: “As the proposed design had to acknowledge the local context, certain elements and design principles of the residential developments needed to be reflected within the school and community hall design.  Aspects such as building orientation, roof forms, profiles and pitches, window modules and proportions, as well as material selection, colours and textures were all used as reference points for the new primary school and community hall.”

The school has been designed as the focal point of the community, enhancing its surroundings without over-powering or dominating the landscape. This is due to the fact that the architects carefully considered various constraints on the proposed development site, including site access and deliveries, scale and mass of the adjacent residential development, and the location of individual elements of the design such as football pitches, and noisy playground areas. 

An aerial view of the school

Layout and scale 

The overall site provides a mixed use of educational facilities, community use and leisure facilities, as well as associated infrastructure, amenity and landscaped areas to serve the immediate residential development. A principle entrance foyer leads into a main corridor or ‘Street’ that runs for the whole length of the school, providing access to all areas of the accommodation.  

The ‘Street’ is a nominal 2m wide corridor, providing the backbone of the school. To the South East of the entrance is the main school hall, which is sized in accordance with the Briefing Framework for Primary School Projects (BB99) to provide sufficient height and space for general school activities, dining and sports. This space can also double up as an additional community use facility.  

The scale of the new development is directly related to the function of the new buildings and where possible, a direct response to the existing and ongoing residential developments.


Classrooms have been spatially enhanced with the ceiling following the roof form, creating vaulted volume. This feature allows natural daylight into the rear of the room and assists with the environmental credentials for the space such as temperature, daylighting, and natural ventilation, particularly important as younger children are vulnerable to all types of pollutants and therefore require good air circulation.

Rooflights have been introduced within the roofscape of the classroom and community hall buildings to let natural light into the deep plan spaces. Individual sun pipes are located in strategic locations over the primary internal rooms again to allow natural light into the space below, which promotes a sense of mental and physical comfort for pupils and teachers. 

Function reflected in design 

Attention was paid to creating integrated space, such as bringing together the ICT and library areas that form the heart of the school; at the same time the architects allowed for independent activities taking place simultaneously without interrupting each other, demonstrated by the location of the main hall and committee room. In case of the changing rooms, the architects considered elements such as the ‘muddy boot syndrome’ with the installation of a separating door, as well as a separate access door for the football team.    

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