Braywick Court Primary School’s biggest challenge turned out to be its greatest opportunity. The Trust had chosen a site next to a nature reserve, and it was vital that our design was as sensitive as possible to its setting – not only for the benefit of the local environment and wildlife, but also for the wellbeing of the children, staff and visitors who would use the school. A considered approach would also assure planning on this green belt site, surrounded by mature trees and houses.
Our design takes the activities and attitudes of play as a starting point. Finding space for play is difficult on a tight site: we made sure that services were efficiently planned to increase available space, and added balconies for recreation. The essential form of the school centres on a heart space, accessed through a range of circulation areas.
Wellbeing is a key part of any school, and we saw Braywick Court’s setting as a fantastic opportunity in this respect. Classrooms connect seamlessly with outdoor spaces, creating bring, calm areas that allow flexible teaching. Much of this effect is down to generous floor-to-ceiling glazing – both boosting natural light and allowing passive supervision from the first floor into the sunken hall.
Of course, the test of a building is how it serves the people who use it – not how it looks on the drawing board. We returned to the school for a detailed post-occupancy evaluation (POE), speaking to the teachers, pupils and staff, and exploring how our ideas had performed in practice. While we were thrilled by the positive response, we’re keen to continue honing our designs for ever-better schools, building on our success at Braywick Court.
“We were consulted during every stage of the design process and the building reflects everything we wanted and believe in. It is a beautiful building which compliments its surroundings in the Nature Reserve. The unique design of the building allows us to deliver our school ethos of being a Green School, maximising the children’s time outside. The children and staff are so happy coming to school every day into such an impressive building which is a pleasure to work and learn in. It is calming, welcoming and safe. ”– GEMMA DONNELLY, HEADTHEACHER BRAYWICK COURT PRIMARY SCHOOL