Torriano Primary School STEM Lab
Civic Trust Awards
Level of Award
Local Authority Area
Information about this scheme
The project creates a space that enables pupils to carry out practical experiments and hands-on learning in STEM subjects. The head teacher wanted a space that would inspire children of all ages in the school to learn more about science - to be used not only by Torriano pupils, but also to share with other schools in the borough.
Located on a tight school site and with a limited budget, re-using existing spaces within the school was paramount. The ‘turret’ in the south-east corner of the building comprised a series of small rooms accessed via a steep, rickety staircase and housed old teaching materials with access to a small area of flat roof. The schools’ pupils, head teacher, science staff, and Artist in Residence, Jack Cornell, were enlisted to help test, draw and model activities that the pupils might want to undertake in the space. This generated the idea of creating an awesome, two-storey space with an internal superstructure that could enable a range of dynamic, learning activities.
The superstructure took the form of a series of CNC-cut, laminated plywood portals that act as a learning apparatus: a framework that allows items to be dropped from, draped over, threaded through, clamped to or projected onto it. Constellations are etched into the faces of the timber and the form of the portals helps re-define the double-height teaching space and provide a cathedral- like scale to a small, previously forgotten, part of the school. The space has been carefully designed to allow for a variety of flexible uses. This includes fold-down demonstration desks with gas taps that can be used for small groups or lifted-up to form a large clear space for a big physics experiment. Floor projection IT equipment allows for pupils to feature inside the presentation: a form of interactive and inclusive learning. The space also features a black-out area for light-based experiments and a mezzanine to enable students to gain additional height to undertake practical experiments.
An external, south-facing terrace connects to the internal space through large double doors complete with an external living wall and an internal cactus planter. The face of the extension is clad in mirror-polished stainless steel: a material that references the clay tiles and lead-clad dormers of the existing building, whilst playfully reflecting the greenery and the environment around the school.
The project includes a planted living wall that provides habitats for insects and wildlife. The planters are designed to enable pupils to become involved in the care of the plants, teaching them about biodiversity and natural habitats, whilst internal planters teach about differing climatic habitats, aid in reducing air polluting gasses and increase biophilic well-being.
Hayhurst and Co
London Borough of Camden
Ian Wright Associates
Bolt & Heeks
Primary Use Class
Class D1c - Education