3W has designed a flexible after-school club in Slough, using prefabrication techniques to meet the tight time constraints
Architect 3W has designed an afterschool club for Ryvers Primary School in Slough, Berkshire. The brief asked for a flexible and adaptable space that could be used by children aged between three and 12, and of varying educational needs. The architect catered for the possibility that the space would also be used for parent/teacher meetings and the general community, and even rented out in lean periods.
A small practice based in west London, 3W comprises three architects who had originally worked together - privately and in their own time - on a number of competition entries. Its portfolio includes domestic newbuild, barn conversions, an 'honourable' third place in the RIBA's Sittingbourne competition, and it has just picked up a commission for a new terminal at Venice airport and a newbuild school in Birmingham.
Stuart Walker, one of the three Ws, says the practice first broke into the school design market after winning a RIBA Sustainable School project in Canterbury, which his son attended.
That proposal used managed timber and sustainable plywood as the primary materials, combined with brick-earth blocks, extensive glazing and a wax-treated, weathered canvas breathable roof.
The scheme for Ryvers School comprises a simple steel-framed pavilion in two halves: an enclosed, internal space; and an open, external space, separated by sliding glazed partitions.
The scheme used prefabrication techniques because of the ubiquitous time constraints placed on designers and contractors - not least the short window of opportunity to construct during the summer holidays. A simple modular construction captures the flexibility of the spatial demands on the building, allowing it to be extended, converted and even demounted easily, if necessary.
The 'solid' portion of the building is glazed on all four sides with integral blinds. The grass roof was designed to cater for high thermal insulation requirements but also to complement the need to lower the impact on neighbouring houses. 'The planners were impressed that the residents on upper floors would be able to look down on a building that truly knits into the environment, ' says Walker.
The 'open' portion of the building will have Teflon-coated fabric ('Veluxtype blinds', as Walker calls them), which can be mechanically winched across the void between the horizontal structural beams, to close off the soffit in bad weather - in much the same way the covers are brought out at Wimbledon. The translucency of the material will allow sufficient daylight to penetrate, providing adequate secondary daylight into the building, supplemented by the clear glazed walls.
CLIENT Ryvers School
QUANTITY SURVEYOR Price & Myers