Keyworth Primary School\

Expanding an existing school

Delivering a successful new build school block for London Borough of Southwark. Doubling the capacity to 3FE; the new block provides a light and airy multi-use hall and classroom spaces with exposed timber walls and much needed access to diverse woodland and nature based play areas.

The building provides accessible accommodation to double the school’s capacity from an existing 1.5FE to a 3FE school. The project is one of four primary school expansion projects being delivered by Hawkins\Brown, as part of LB Southwark’s primary expansion programme.

The Challenge

The new development allowed the team to implement a cohesive masterplan for an under-used site. The existing building, although very handsome, had typical Victorian Board School issues; sitting in the middle of the plot, creating separate niches of external areas. The location of the new building has allowed the school to have a street presence as well as opening up the external spaces across the school. The hall and atrium are an asset to the local community, in particular, providing an after school club for surrounding schools.

The Big Idea

The new building is defined as two clear volumes; a new multi-purpose hall and a teaching block containing 9 classrooms and nursery. The volumes are connected by a glazed link which forms the new breakfast club / after school entrance. The use of brick and pitched roof, references the Victorian building and the surrounding context, whilst the asymmetrical nature of the roof creates a distinct contemporary identity for the building.

The Small Detail

Constructing the building from cross-laminated timber (CLT) gave the opportunity of leaving the timber exposed where possible. This creates a sense of space and light throughout. The classrooms are light and airy with exposed CLT soffits. Lightwells in the circulation spaces ensure maximum daylight penetrates the plan. The use of pre-fabricated CLT allowed the school to continue operating, delivering the new build on a tight programme and budget.

“Since moving into the new building, the teachers have noticed how the light and sound quality of the new building have enhanced the learning culture.”

Elizabeth Marriott Headteacher, Keyworth Primary School

  • Project Details
  • Sustainability

Project Summary

Project Team

Structural Engineers: Elliott Wood Partnership Ltd
M&E Engineers: Max Fordham LLP, Barn Partnership
Cost Consultant: The Keegans Group
Project Management: Mace Group Ltd
Acoustic Engineers: Bureau Veritas UK Ltd
Landscape Architects: BD Landscape Architects


  • RIBA Awards 2018 - London Regional Award - Shortlisted


The orientation, form and layout of the building are integral to the sustainability strategy and vice versa. In line with the London Plan, we targeted a 35% improvement over 2013 Building Regulations Part L2A. Approximately 10-15% of this is achieved by efficiency including an airtight envelope, high thermal performance, efficient boilers, services and lighting. A further 20% improvement is provided by on-site renewable generation through roof located solar PVs. The project achieved a ‘Very Good’ BREEAM rating.

The classrooms use a primarily passive system through assisted natural ventilation. This system mixes cool external air with internal warm air and provides tempered ventilation to the classrooms in Winter. During Summer cool air is brought into the building with additional air from louvres to achieve thermal comfort.

By maximising daylight within the building, we aimed to significantly reduce lighting energy demand, whilst creating a more pleasant learning environment. 40% of the classroom façade is glazed to provide a minimum daylight factor of 3%. The use of lightwells in the corridors allows classrooms on both floors to benefit from a more even distribution of natural light across the classroom. Extensive daylight modelling was used to inform the façade design. All classroom lighting is zoned to automatically reduce artificial lighting demands using occupancy and light level sensors.

The ‘timber first’ approach was cost effective and minimised build time on site. CLT also reduced total embodied carbon, and the construction method enabled us to achieve an air permeability vastly exceeding the current building regulations’ minimum requirement.

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