Tears of Joy\

We recently completed two new primary schools for Hilden Grange Prep School in Kent, and for Emmanuel C of E Primary School in West Hampstead, Camden. In both cases, the children moved in last term and have been enjoying getting to know their new buildings.

The sites couldn’t be more different. At Hilden Grange, the new Ritblat building is located on a hillside allowing phenomenal views over the countryside.  The new building is organised in two wings stepping down the hill. A series of individual spaces between the buildings provide a protective tiered play space, creating a secure and unique environment for the children to play, learn and interact. The buildings themselves were constructed almost entirely in Prefabricated Cross Laminated Timber, within a single academic year.  The timber structure is exposed internally allowing the children to understand the building blocks of modern construction whilst creating a well-insulated, sustainable and sophisticated learning environment.

In contrast Emmanuel is an inner city school, which maximizes its tight site by building vertically and providing a variety of learning spaces and external decks through a stepped building section. The majority of the classrooms are on the upper levels with access to south facing external terraces. Circulation space is purposefully generous to provide informal break out space and areas for smaller groups of children to work together. Outside, the learning and educational landscape has subtle and hidden education as well as the more obvious play equipment. A colourful amphitheatre provides a great climbing opportunity for the children whilst also ensuring level access throughout. As part of the childrens’ first day, parents and carers were invited to have a look around. There were genuine tears of joy at the new facilities, which is all we could ask for really!

"The new buildings are wonderful and have quite transformed the lives of all of us who work there."
Celine George,  Senior Teacher, 
Hilden Grange Preparatory School

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