University of Cambridge Primary School
by Marks Barfield Architects
Client University of Cambridge Primary School / North West Cambridge Development
Awards RIBA East Award 2017
Considerable research went into the development of this primary school, taking best practice from across the globe on teaching methods since it is also a training school. It is an ambitious project and staff are clearly proud and delighted with the resultant building.
The circular form of the school wraps around a central courtyard giving a clear sense of place on arrival as well as serving as an external assembly room that brings the whole school together. This sense of sharing across years and creating a school community is reinforced by the organisation and layout of the school. A library and art room with ‘shop window’ sits at the entrance and immediately sets the scene for making teaching and learning visible. This continues into the shared teaching streets, flooded with light, which are open to each classroom, allowing informal observation by researchers and training teachers of classroom activities. Off each classroom are external teaching spaces facing either inwards towards the central court or outwards towards the larger playground. Larger outdoor teaching areas on the circular plan further supplement these and physically and visibly connect the inner courtyard with the outer playground and new woodlands.
Close to the entrance are communal areas, including dining and assembly, which can also be used by the wider community out of hours. Dining encourages mixed year groupings and incorporates circulation through to classrooms and, facing southeast, focuses back onto the central courtyard. Throughout the building there is a clever doubling up of uses so that tight school space standards are exploited.
The building is an open and fresh attempt to look at education and the resultant classrooms and spaces are admirable and clearly enjoyed by their occupants.
Contractor Willmott Dixon
Structural Engineers URS (now AECOM), Parmarbrook
Environmental / M&E Engineers Briggs & Forester, Building Services Design, URS (now AECOM)
Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant Gardiner & Theobald
Landscape Architects Colour UDL
Acoustic Engineers URS (now AECOM)
Artist Ruth Proctor, Contemporary Arts Society
Furniture Hampshire Council Architects
NEC Supervisor Calfordseadon
Project Management Turner & Townsend
CDM Coordinator Faithful & Gould
Approved Building Inspector 3C Shared Services Building Control (including Cambridge City Council)