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Rooftop extension adds light and life to London school

Edward Williams Architects' design means Turnham Primary now benefits from a dance studio and ecology terrace

Posted by Julian Owen | December 21, 2018 | Bricks & mortar

Edward Williams Architects has completed a rooftop extension to a mid-20th century primary school in Lewisham, developing and detailing the initial designs by Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects. Turnham Primary School needed additional facilities on a restricted site for their expanding pupil numbers; a large extension at roof level allows the school to grow, providing additional facilities in a light-filled space with views across the neighbourhood.

The zinc-clad second floor extension provides extra classrooms, including special educational needs rooms, and a large hall to accommodate a whole school year of pupils. With a deliberately expressed natural timber structure, and lined with birch plywood timber panels, the hall is a warm, unimpeded space for assembly, dance and games, and flooded with daylight through large windows running along its length. Classrooms are fitted with birch plywood cupboards and a neutral palette. For the toilets, a bold lime green has been chosen, using colour to make a stronger cognitive break between transitory spaces and the classroom.

The extension makes space for an ecology terrace, with benches and raised planters outside a practical classroom complete with a ‘wet area’; here, the children grow edible plants and learn about nature systems, plants, and food. All of the new rooms in the extension are naturally ventilated using the breathing building system, a low energy natural ventilation solution using passive roof terminals in conjunction with opening windows. Throughout the extension, high acoustic performance is achieved using expressed acoustic panels.

Laura Carrara-Cagni, Director of Edward Williams Architects, said: “Previously squeezed into too few classrooms and with restricted play and creative spaces, it was brilliant to see the children expressing themselves in their bright new hall. Their classrooms are now airy spaces to support their learning and colourful work.”

Edward Williams Architects was appointed by the general contractor to develop the stage three design from Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects. The concept design was therefore realised by careful detailing, and a series of proposals were implemented to add safety and material quality to the composition. The school remained in operation during the construction programme, with pupils temporarily accommodated in stacked container classrooms in the school grounds, now repurposed into playground space for the children.

John Halliwell, Executive Headteacher, said: “Now that we’re all back under one roof, it’s created a renewed sense of enthusiasm and vigour. The dance studio at the top is an amazing space. It’s allowed us to specialise in creative provision for dance, but also, for the first time in the school’s history, we’re able to hold whole-school assemblies. The quality of the build throughout is very high.”

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