The Belham School
London Borough of Southwark
- Finalist under the Schools category for the AJ Retrofit Awards, 2018
- Shortlisted under the Education category for the New London Architecture Awards, 2018
The Belham Primary School has been a hugely rewarding job for our team to work on for many reasons. Primarily, because it centred around the sensitive restoration of a Grade II Listed London Board School, noted by Historic England as being as one of the more seminal pieces by architect E.R. Robson. Secondly because it is into this context that we have been able to cleverly knit a three storey contemporary extension, to fulfil the client’s brief and deliver an exceptionally high quality modern learning environment.
The other notable aspect of this project is the critique this plays out in relation to modern schools built over the last 60 years. Bellenden Primary School, who were originally accommodated in this building, left in the 1980s when the building seemingly no longer suited their needs, only to be housed in a brand new school which has more recently been demolished given its poor construction.
The Belham Primary School is a new 2FE Free School which is now the second school for the Dulwich Hamlet Educational Trust. It is based in the heart of Peckham Rye, an area that has seen rapid regeneration over the last few years. As part of the project we have carried out essential remedial works to restore the listed fabric safeguarding the future of the building and the character of the area together with the provision of a significant new build extension, conceived as a perforated corten box on top of a simple brick plinth. The positioning of the new build was challenging given complex party wall issues, overlooking from neighbours, rights of light implications and the historic gables of the existing building which Historic England were keen to preserve. Through extensive consultation with the school, governors, parents, children, the local community, the Local Authority, the planners and Historic England the modern addition was agreed given it referenced the listed building’s scale while being appropriately subservient, to the original building.
This project balanced the needs of conservation, development, sustainable design, stakeholder engagement and outstanding architecture for the benefit of its diverse and dynamic community in central London.
Photography by Simon Kennedy and ©Hufton+Crow