Elm Court School, London, UK-England
Exemplary design categories: cultural and historical value, special needs provisionHow the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
Three main architectural interventions have turned the historic school on four floors into a modern educational building suitable for students with special educational needs. The first intervention was to create an atrium at the heart of the building. Its ETFE roof bathes the space in natural light. It now serves as a new meeting space and has become the heart of the school. It links directly to the school’s dining room, which opens via new French doors to a landscaped courtyard beyond. The second intervention was to construct a new mezzanine floor in the main hall area. This allows the offices and therapy rooms to be clustered around the main entrance of the school and it maintains the open space of the hall, with 5m high soffits above first-floor level. Raising the hall floor has also made it possible to look out of the high hall windows while augmenting internal natural light levels. A new external glass stair tower provides the statutory second escape route from the front wing. This also works as a mechanism for breaking up the rather dour main façade with a transparent, technologically complex but visually elegant structure. This is suggestive of a contemporary function, and announces a new era of occupation. Both the new and the remodelled buildings have been designed for effective passive natural ventilation and daylighting through the use of state-of-the-art roof vents and roof lights. The classrooms have been designed for small classes. The school keeps teaching groups to around eight students to minimise disruption and distraction between students. The classrooms are supplemented by group rooms for “time-out” space, one-to-one work and staff meetings.
Activity Areas: school administration, parents’ room, medical and professional rooms, ICT office, atrium, dining room, class base, staff offices, design and technology, music room, outdoor amphitheatre, sports hall
Project costs: GBP 8,500,000.00
Source: "Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011"