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A space to meet and learn

Woods Hardwick designs new primary academy and community hall, Lace Hill

Posted by Stephanie Broad | July 01, 2016 | Facilities & buildings

According to the newest RIBA report, too many school buildings are poorly built because of a rigid one-size fits all approach adopted by the Education Funding Agency (EFA). But architects Woods Hardwick, who were appointed to design school and community hall Lace Hill, have demonstrated that every school has to be assessed individually. This guarantees that the best environment for pupils is provided, and in the case of Lace Hill, the wider community.

Mark Appleyard, Director at Woods Hardwick, explains: “As the proposed design had to acknowledge the local context, certain elements and design principles of the residential developments needed to be reflected within the school and community hall design. Aspects such as building orientation, roof forms, profiles and pitches, window modules and proportions, as well as material selection, colours and textures were all used as reference points for the new primary school and community hall.” 

The overall site provides a mixed use of educational facilities, community use and leisure facilities, as well as associated infrastructure, amenity and landscaped areas to serve the immediate residential development. A linear plan format provides a principle entrance foyer that leads into a main corridor or ‘street’ that runs for the whole length of the school and provides access to all areas of the accommodation. 


The ‘street’ is a nominal 2m wide corridor, providing the backbone of the school. To the south east of the entrance is the main school hall which is sized in accordance with the Briefing Framework for Primary School Projects (BB99) to deliver sufficient height and space for general school activities, dining and sports. This space can also double up as an additional community use facility.  

Attention was paid to creating integrated space, bringing together the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and library areas that form the heart of the school; at the same time the architects allowed for independent activities taking place simultaneously without interrupting each other, demonstrated by the location of the main hall and committee room. In case of the changing rooms the architects considered elements such as the ‘muddy boot syndrome’ with the installation of a separating door, as well as a separate access door for the football team. 

The scale of the new development is directly related to the function of the new buildings and where possible, a direct response to the existing and ongoing residential developments. Lace Hill Academy and Community Hall opened its doors for the first time in September 2015. Read more about the Lace Hill project in the case study.


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