Hackney New Primary School and 333 Kingsland Road
by Henley Halebrown
Client Downham Road Ltd. (JV)
Awards RIBA London Award 2022 and RIBA National Award 2022 (sponsored by Forterra)
Hackney New Primary School is an immense sculptural pink brute of a building, punctuating a busy junction on the Kingsland Road with a certain civic pride.
The project comprises a school enabled by a new housing block, both on a single, tight urban site. Its size clearly challenges educational and environmental norms, with the elimination of internal corridors forming an inner world of a closely-knit courtyard and classrooms. It is clear the architects have had to be inventive to deliver the required light and ventilation on this restricted school site and the courtyard is very much the heart of the school in the same way the hall was in the Victorian board school. Everything happens within this central space.
The grateful residents of the apartment building appear to be thoroughly enjoying the penthouse qualities of their temporary homes, the wide vistas across East London, and the very generous outside spaces sheltered by the robust, uncomplicated concrete logia structure that defines the building’s external appearance. These current residents are maximising the meanwhile benefit of living in the building while another development gets underway nearby. Eventually, the units will be occupied as 100% affordable housing.
The ten storeys are served by a central octagonal oculus staircase, a visual treat for those with a head for heights. When viewed from the tenth floor or basement, the impact is mesmerising, like a wormhole to another dimension. One hopes that it is enticing enough to tempt residents away from the lift on a day-to-day basis.
Equally of note is the façade, of delightful high-quality, with a solid street presence. The apartment building touches the pavement in a well-mannered way, with a welcoming colonnade giving space back to the public realm and a sense of place to the shop unit fronts.
Likewise, the long precast concrete bench backing onto the simply articulated blind façade of the school hall has been thoughtfully provided for waiting parents beside the school gates.
Overall, these elements make this a conceptually rigorous and notable architectural response.
Internal area: 8,500.00 m²
Contractor: Thornsett Structures
Structural Engineers: Techniker
Environmental / M&E Engineers: Elementa
Landscape Architects: Tyler Grange
Planting: Jennifer Benyon Design
Artist: Paul Morrison
Planning Consultant: CMA Planning
Principal Designer: Potter Raper
Approved Inspector: MLM
Fire Consultant: BWC Fire
Acoustic Engineers: Pace Consult
Transport Consultant: Phil Jones Associates