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Southwark primary schools competition


07 August 2007

Press release contact:

Linda Roberts
E: linda.roberts@riba.org

Three of the UK's most innovative and renowned architects are the winners of an international design competition run by Southwark Council and the RIBA Competitions Office for the modernisation of three primary schools in Southwark.
The three architects will transform Michael Faraday Primary School (Aylesbury Estate), Eveline Lowe Primary School (Bermondsey) and Southwark Park Primary School (Bermondsey) into some of the very best school buildings in Europe.
Twelve architects (four for each school) were chosen to take part in the competition from 90 applicants, with the winners chosen by a panel of judges chaired by RIBA architectural adviser Paul Monaghan. 

  • SMC Alsop – Michael Faraday Primary School
  • HKR Architects / John Pardey Architects – Eveline Lowe Primary School
  • Birds Portchmouth Russum – Southwark Park Primary School
    Each school represents unique challenges and opportunities. Michael Faraday is in the heart of the Aylesbury Estate and will be one of the first new buildings delivered as part of the area's regeneration. Eveline Lowe is housed in both a 1967 Grade 2 listed building, an exemplar of the Plowden Report and an Edwardian building on a split site. The school is to be expanded and modernised to create a 21st century school that respects the design philosophy of the existing listed buildings. Southwark Park is a Grade 2 listed Victorian school and is to be expanded and modernised to create a modern school that celebrates its heritage.
    The competition allowed the competing architects to meet with and explore early thoughts and ideas with staff and pupils, giving the commissioning team and the Headteachers the opportunity to develop an understanding and confidence in their future architectural teams.
    The competition was part of the Southwark schools for the future programme that aims to transform education provision in Southwark. The programme includes academies, secondary schools, primary schools and children's centres.
    Councillor Caroline Pidgeon, Southwark Council's executive members for children's services and education, said : "We are striving for the most environmentally-friendly and sustainable primary schools. SMC Alsop, Birds Portchmouth Russum and HKR Architects/John Pardey Architects have shown they can meet our challenge and produce inspiring buildings of exceptional quality, sustainability and functionality. We're very pleased to have attracted architects of this calibre and look forward to working with the three firms as we transform our schools".
    Paul Monaghan added : "The Southwark schools for the future competition shows that there is a huge appetite in the architectural profession for primary school design. It was very difficult to pick winners and indeed Southwark Council could have built any of the shortlisted designs. I believe Southwark Council will truly be Building Schools for the Future". 
  • Notes to editors

    Winners' Descriptions:
    SMC Alsop's early concept focuses around the interpretation of a hub as the centre of the flexible and dynamic learning environment, with classroom and community activities wrapped around a central core to create a rich layering of indoor and outdoor spaces. Learning within the school would thus be visible to all so that there would be a collective awareness of the activity and environment around them. In consultation with the pupils and Headteacher, early development of an appropriate building form progressed from an initial single storey linear school to a building on several levels that would reflect pupils' aspirations for a multi-level structure giving views onto the world beyond the school.
    "The development of a new extended community school will provide us with the opportunity to create an exciting, dynamic and inclusive building that will become the heart of an area that is to undergo complete transformation. We see the school as being at the centre of this regeneration and believe that working closely with architects, pupils and representatives from the community we will have the opportunity to create a cutting edge building that will be seen nationally as an exemplary model for community engagement, offering best practice at all levels. In our experience this kind of competition is really to be commended – it enabled the project team access to the users, to explore initial ideas, needs and dreams with the pupils and staff to produce a conceptual design that reflected users' concerns and aspirations whilst at the same time took account of the stipulated written aspects of the brief. In turn the process gave the commissioning team and Headteacher the opportunity to develop an understanding and confidence in their future architectural team, who would be so instrumental in helping to realise their ambition and hopes for the future" - Jonathan Leah, project director at SMC Alsop.
    The HKR/John Pardey team described their scheme : "What made this school competition different was the nature and Grade II listing of the 1960's school. The building itself is modest and unassuming, with understated architectural rhetoric, but its education intention is innovative and influential. Understanding the 1960's educational philosophy made the study both interesting and challenging. How to enhance this environment without damaging its original aura and add to it a sense of innovative purpose for the 21st century we regarded as the major part of the design challenge.
    Optimising space on the limited site and minimising the building footprint was a primary consideration in our response to the brief. We added new classroom buildings on piloti at first floor level – perhaps not the most obvious place to build – that allowed us to form an integrated boundary enclosure, part of which will occupy the existing car park to the entrance area. The spaces contained by this enclosure will in addition to providing a sense of place, contribute to an attractive educational landscape. This ensemble will be a sanctuary for play and learning where the boundary itself becomes part of the garden environment."
    David Roden, Director of HKR said "We are excited to be designing this project as part of our expanding educational work. It has been an enjoyable process in this competition understanding the listed buildings and their suitability for 21st century learning. Making appropriate modifications to the existing site are a significant challenge in this case". John Pardey added "We are delighted to have been successful in this RIBA competition, and really excited about this commission in London. It's been great to team up with HKR Architects (we're currently working on several schemes together) and Sir Colin Stansfield-Smith – the joint effort of the design team has created what we believe to be an exciting scheme that we now look forward to developing further".
    Birds Portchmouth's Russum's design modernises the Victorian 'London Board' school designed by E.R. Robson to create a unified indoor and outdoor environment which facilitates safe learning and play within flexible and inspirational spaces. A new entrance on Southwark Park Road promotes the school within the wider community and reinforces the links to the park. A new nursery is proposed with an independent entrance, two new pavilions for IT facilities, and a drama space creating a new courtyard framing views of the principal elevation of the existing school. Classrooms for each year are paired and a support hub is introduced between which is contained cloak space, wc's and a mezzanine level to provide informal tuition and staff space.
    "We are particularly delighted to win this competition as the client, Southwark Park Primary School and Southwark Council, have been closely involved in the briefing/concept stage and are fully committed to commence construction in 2008 and complete the project by 2010." – Richard Portchmouth, Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects. 

    Michael Faraday Primary School : 

  • SMC Alsop
  • dsdha Architects
  • Walters and Cohen
  • de Rijke Marsh Morgan
    Southwark Park School :
  • Sarah Wigglesworth Architects
  • Hawkins Brown
  • Edward Cullinan Architects
  • Birds Portchmouth Russum
    Eveline Lowe Primary School :
  • HKR Architects / John Pardey Architects
  • Haverstock Associated Architects
  • van Heyningen & Haward.



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