Sarah Wigglesworth Architects (SWA), working with Architects Collaborative, has designed a modern extension to the existing Victorian buildings of Kingsgate Primary School, creating a playful and light filled addition to this London school. The new space includes a multi-purpose studio, library and community entrance with accessible WC and storage.
“Working with Ann Griffin of Architects Collaborative has proven how, when it comes to education projects that have forward-thinking clients such as Camden Council, collaboration produces astonishing results,” says Sarah Wigglesworth. “Architects Collaborative, acting for LB Camden, was instrumental in initiating the project, developing the brief and a site wide masterplan while the SWA team designed the buildings and managed the process of delivery. We are all proud of the result, which offers a wonderful new learning environment for the pupils and staff at Kingsgate.”
“This is creative collaboration at its best – where the process is enriched and the outcome exceeds what any individual member could have achieved without the shared endeavour,” said Ann Griffin. “It has been particularly rewarding to see these delightful spaces in use and to hear from the school how they support a seamless transition for pupils moving up from their other site.”
An ambition for primary education in Camden
The London Borough of Camden, one of the city’s councils most committed to education and design excellence, selected Kingsgate Primary School for expansion to help meet the need for more pupil places in this relatively deprived part of the borough. The existing school site on Kingsgate Road did not offer sufficient space for the required expansion and so a second site was developed to accommodate the infants (key stage 1), freeing up the Kingsgate Road site for the juniors (Key Stage 2) children aged 8 to 11 years old. Considerable adaptation of the existing site was required to create a superb learning environment to meet the needs of these older children. The extension takes advantage of this unusual opportunity, to create an exemplar learning environment dedicated to KS2 sport, learning and play, designed with children in mind.
“One of the main challenges of the project was constructing the extension while the school was in operation. On a physically constrained site, the construction programme had to work around the school timetable and deliver the completed extension quickly,” says Project Architect Katharine Terry. “The solution was to use structurally insulated panels (SIPs) for the building fabric. These had the advantage of being prepared off-site and then craned into place, condensing the construction programme and minimising the number of deliveries to site. The project was completed in July 2018.”
A family of pitched-roof elements
The extension is designed to enhance the school’s relationship with the adjacent Kilburn Grange Park. The new frontage to the park provides opportunities for community access with a possible future entrance from the park side. A palette of treated timber cladding and simple zinc roofs addresses the natural setting of the park and establishes the distinctive character of the extension. The internal spaces offer views through the building towards the mature trees beyond, creating a stimulating learning environment as well as a view through the building.
Key features of the original school building, with its pop-up dormer windows, smaller scale roof elements and gable elevations, have been reinterpreted in the form and scale of the extension, enabling it to sit comfortably in the wider school site. The new internal spaces draw on the daylight qualities and proportions of the existing space. Generous pitched ceiling heights create a feeling of spaciousness and daylight enters from multiple directions. Low level windows frame areas for window seats and reading spaces while high-level windows and rooflights provide views of the sky and assist with natural ventilation.
Photography credit: Beccy Lane