An exemplar of co-location and inclusive design maximising a constrained site
Award winning architects HLM, working with Wandsworth Borough Council and Neilcott Construction Group, have completed an £11.5 million new facility for Greenmead and Ronald Ross Schools.
Co-locating a mainstream primary; Ronald Ross Primary School, together with an SEN primary; Greenmead, has its challenges, particularly on such a constrained site.
However the decision to co-locate the schools enabled both expansion of the specialist accommodation to support a growing need within the borough, and it also provided the opportunity to design shared facilities.
HLM produced a design that offers an environment capable of meeting the needs of all pupils in mainstream and specialist settings. Both schools are rated ‘Outstanding’, having their own identity and unique requirements in terms of teaching and specialist facilities. At the same time however, the schools identified areas where shared or joint facilities would promote inclusion and result in improved facilities for all users.
Situated at the heart of site and between the schools is a shared hall which best exemplifies the inclusivity focused design principles. Each school has their own separate circulation routes that congregate at the hall. Flexible partitioning enables this space to be configured for multi-use, assemblies, dining, performances and joint events.
Passive environmental principles informed the design with the shared hall and the Greenmead classrooms best exemplifying this through the incorporation of high-level clerestory windows mounted within a south-facing saw-tooth roof configuration.
In terms of dedicated facilities, Ronald Ross has a range of teaching areas for small groups of children, as well as food technology, music and ICT rooms. Greenmead has a range of specialist facilities, including a hydrotherapy pool and sensory rooms, as well as more conventional recreational and classroom spaces.
Each school has its own external space specifically designed for the needs of each group of pupils. Active play and social spaces are directly accessed from the ground floor accommodation with the upper floor teaching spaces having access to a roof terrace for outdoor learning and community involvement.
A key consideration of the design was the existing schools’ strong links with the local community, which the design team ensured was retained and strengthened. The new design includes a multi-use games area that is accessible to local young people outside school hours, while the hall complex has been designed so that it can be used by the community at large. The hydrotherapy pool is also located in this area and, as with the former Greenmead pool, can be let to more specialist users.
Richard O’Neil, Chairman of HLM, said: “HLM has extensive experience in designing educational facilities and brought this knowledge to bare at Greenmead and Ronald Ross school. This was a demanding and complicated project, but also one that offered the opportunity to add value to the educational facilities available to the people of Wandsworth. We are particularly excited by the potential for the shared facilities to foster social inclusion; and we hope that pupils, teachers, parents and the wider community will enjoy using their new facilities.”
Abigail Brady, Headteacher said: “The school community were involved in the design process from the start of the project. HLM initiated a careful consultation, involving the whole school community. What has been impressive is to watch how our needs and preferences have come to fruition in the building itself, and the impact this has had on the quality of teaching and learning. We found ourselves continually reviewing our decisions and where necessary, HLM were quick to accommodate any changes. The parents and pupils at Ronald Ross Primary School are proud of their new building. The learning spaces fit the needs of our teaching staff who have found moving from the 1950s to the present day, to be a revelation.”