Woodland Classrooms, Belvue School

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Application Type

Civic Trust Awards

Level of Award

Commendation

Region

Greater London

Local Authority Area

Ealing

Information about this scheme

Belvue school sits adjacent to a previously underutilised woodland which the school are now managing as an educational nature reserve. Two new woodland rooms have been provided that sit separately from the main school building and provide 150sqm of unique facilities, with a more domestic quality and intimate scale.  The approach was about more than just designing a new building for the school, it was about creating a narrative for the woodland that would open up imaginative ways of engaging with this newly acquired natural asset. The woodland rooms act as a ‘gatehouse’, and symbolise the entrance to another world.  The design process included story writing workshops with the students to develop a collective narrative for the woodland and identify how this ‘gatehouse’ could interact with it. The classrooms were required to provide three types of much needed learning spaces. The ‘Cosy Lounge’ is used for teaching and engaging with the woodland, offering a connection to wildlife that many students don’t otherwise have, as well as being a private sensory space. The ‘Sociable Kitchen’ includes a café, with food preparation area and dining for small groups. The ‘Messy Barn’ allows outdoor learning, whatever the weather. These functions enable students to learn essential life skills. encouraging and inspiring them to adopt extra responsibilities and be more autonomous. The concave ceiling has allowed the creation of a lower head height as you enter the space creating an intimate domestic scale that opens up as you move towards the centre of the room. The curved soffit also enables light from the clerestory windows to spill across the surface, filling the space with natural light. The stack effect created by this form allows for the spaces to be entirely naturally ventilated.  In parallel to the design and delivery of the woodland classrooms, Studio Weave worked with a forest management specialist on developing a woodland strategy to ensure good maintenance and sensitive upkeep of the woods. The woodland strategy seeks to bring benefits to the wider community, by improving biodiversity in the area.

Credits

Architect

Studio Weave

Client

Belvue School

Main Contractor

IMS Building Solutions

Structural Engineer

Timberwright

Approved Building Control Inspector

Assent

Local Authority

Ealing council

M&E Engineers

Arup

Primary Use Class

Class D1c - Education