A new 2 storey building for Abbotsfield School for Boys, including drama studio, English classrooms, art rooms and gallery area. Sustainability was a priority for the school: natural ventilation and daylight, materials specified for environmental performance, thermal mass, and sensor-operated electrical lights / windows / wind catchers are key to the design.
Turquoise wind-catchers and a yellow northlight form a playful roofscape to this new Arts Centre, which can be seen above the existing buildings on approach from the main gate. Monolithic striped brickwork walls wrap around the playground façade; a hornbeam-planted timber screen provides protection and screening from ball games. The long fall of the roof forms a ‘lid’ to the south, and on the east facade deep-revealed ribbons of windows break up the mass of the brickwork.
English classrooms occupy the ground floor, together with a Drama Studio which is a white teaching space with high linear windows, an adjustable-height lighting grid and full-perimeter curtains. On the first floor a top-lit gallery space connects 2 spatially dramatic Art Studios which look out over the playing fields below. The exposed castellated steel roof structure is rigorously detailed. Natural ventilation and daylight, materials specified for environmental performance, thermal mass, and sensor-operated electrical lights / windows / wind catchers also feature.
The new Arts building has been positioned on the open side of a large courtyard, containing external play space. The desire to minimise the impact of the building on available outside play space has informed the overall building footprint. Teaching spaces face away from the playground, with corridors acting as a physical and acoustic barrier. Additional protection from playground activities is achieved by a planted screen, which also defines a waiting area outside the building. The location of the building eliminates south-facing rooms, and limits north-facing glazing to the art studios only.
Pupils and staff are extremely pleased with the new building. As the headteacher reports, modern surroundings, views over London, spacious accommodation and gallery spaces provides increased motivation for the pupils to produce work of a higher standard. The pupils have become far more involved with their subjects and the building has enabled them to become far more proactive and interactive with their learning.