Robert Browning School
London Borough of Southwark
- Shortlisted under the Education category for the New London Architecture Awards, 2018
The school has undergone extensive refurbishment and extension works to facilitate expansion from 1.5FE to 2FE, remaining fully operational throughout the works. We re-organised the school and created a new sports hall, dining hall and kitchen within a new build extension, increasing the size of each space to suit the larger cohort of children. In doing so, we were also able to provide a valuable new roof terrace maximising external play on the site. The terrace includes high quality, flexible, all weather external curriculum teaching space with covered areas and a mixture of surfaces including artificial grass. Redesigning of the existing and new external areas provide a diverse and age appropriate range of landscape solutions, and which maximises the use of external space on what is a tight urban site.
The new extension is located prominently at the heart of the vibrant East Street Market, brick was selected for its robustness and has been rigorously detailed to create a delicate yet bold addition to the Victorian school context clearly announcing the school on a prominent corner within the market. The façade has been carefully composed to work with the rhythm of the existing building and the functions within.
The façade is designed around a brick grid punctuated by recessed brick panels on the ground and first floor, extending to form a colonnade framing the roof terrace. The brick grid is based on an English bond with pier spacings set to ensure the bond runs continuously vertically across the façade, brick slip clad faces stainless steel lintels were selected over a masonry support system for the horizontal sections as this simplified construction, achieved a brick soffit and avoided movement joints at pier heads. As a cost effective and short lead-in alternative to a fired brick special we developed with the sub-contractor cut and stick plinth brick specials at the base of recessed panels to shed water and allow the English header bond coursing to continue. Undersides of the colonnade use brick slip clad brick support systems hung from a steel structure to complete the monolithic effect of the brick grid.
To achieve an effect of depth and relief in a slim and therefore economic wall construction the recessed panels employ a brick slip rainscreen cladding system. Here the brick bond is rotated to a vertical stretcher bond providing subtle contrast to the brick grid. Key to the sustainable internal environmental strategy, aluminium windows set into the recessed brick panels add a final element of texture to the façade through bespoke steel mesh cladding panels at high level which conceal a combination of opening vents and breathing building units.
Photographs by Hufton + Crow