Top marks for sustainable Nine Elms school design
Published: Thursday, August 5, 2021
The sustainable and education-focused design of a new school planned for Nine Elms has been unanimously given the green light by Wandsworth Council’s planning committee.
Plans for the plot, which is part of the former South London Mail Centre site between Nine Elms Lane and Ponton Road, have been developed by the council over four years using school design guidance, feedback from planning consultations and review by two independent design panels.
Designed to provide a two-form entry primary school and community facilities within one building, the development is in a prominent location at the western end of the linear Nine Elms Park and faces onto the park’s Village Green.
The new 4,309sqm school is at the centre of the development, providing a core facility for the growing local community in the immediate catchment area. The capacity is planned to accommodate 420 pupils and 52 nursery pupils.
The new nursery is designed as a standalone facility, located alongside the reception classrooms of the school to assist with transition from nursery to the primary school.
The teaching areas for both early years and key stage one are located together at ground floor level, with all key stage two classrooms located on the upper floors. External spaces are provided at all floor levels so that planting and gardens are located alongside the internal teaching areas.
Soft landscaping and courtyard wildlife gardens are planned for outdoor play and lesson space, to encourage the children to engage with nature and increase local biodiversity.
The landscaping around the school building will seamlessly blend the development into the surrounding Nine Elms Park – a 4.5 hectare public park which stretches from Battersea Power Station up towards Vauxhall.
To highlight the school and community building at this central location in the park, the external facades will be made of textured reconstituted stone with bronze panels and laser cut coated panels at the entrances and upper levels. The internal courtyard will have light-colour brickwork and stone, with full height glazing at the entrance to provide an amphitheatre space. The building has a target to achieve BREEAM Outstanding.
Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council said: “This high-quality design must be commended as it has been carefully configured to engage children as well as benefit the wider Nine Elms community.
“With its key position bookending the new park, the focus on sustainability and outdoor learning will ensure that this unique public building is attractive and integrates well with its surroundings to enhance the area’s character.”
A music suite, hall and kitchen are located by the entrance allowing the facilities to be used by the community while keeping the school safe. The 320sqm community/recreation space is intended for use by the local community as well as the school, along with other schools in the borough.
To encourage sustainable travel to and from the site, 56 long-stay cycle parking spaces and 7 short stay spaces are proposed. There will be some limited drop-off and pick-up parking spaces.
The education-led building has been developed in accordance with Department for Education design guidance and standards, and in close collaboration with a stakeholder group of representatives from the education, construction and community departments of Wandsworth Council. The school design team has also worked closely with the freeholder Royal Mail Group and Camlins, who are the lead landscape architects for the linear Nine Elms Park.
It is anticipated that the primary school will not be required before 2025, so at this stage the school operator has not been identified.