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Coffey wins 2011 Stephen Lawrence Prize for St Patrick’s school extension

Coffey Architects has won this year’s Stephen Lawrence Prize for its St Patrick’s School Library and Music Room in Kentish Town, London

The Clerkenwell-based studio beat Featherstone Young, David Mikhail and others to win the annual award designed to celebrate fresh talents working with budgets below £1 million.

Coffey’s £350,000 scheme created a new library, music room and store room constructed from zinc and timber for a north-west London primary school.

Coffey Architects' St. Patrick’s School Library and Music Room in Kentish Town, London. Image by Tim Soar

Source: Tim Soar

The other shortlisted projects were David Sheppard Architects’ Brown’s Dental Practice, Hoxton House extension by David Mikhail Architects, Peter Beard_LANDROOM’s Marshland Discovery Zone, Ty-Hedfan by Featherstone Young and WT Architecture’s White House on the Isle of Coll.

RIBA past president Marco Goldschmied said: ‘The St Patrick’s School Music Room and Library marks that rare occasion when a small budget in the hands of a thoughtful and ingenious architect lays the seed for the step by step transformation of an entire institution.

‘The effortless and elegant integration of structure, internal finishes and fixed furniture creates a place that generations of pupils will fondly remember in years to come.’

Funded by the Marco Goldschmied Foundation, the prize was set up 14 years ago in memory of Stephen Lawrence who aspired to be an architect but was murdered in 1993.

The award was judged by Stephen Lawrence’s mother Doreen Lawrence, last year’s winning architect Philip Gumuchdjian and Marco Goldschmied.


Full citation:


St Patrick’s School Library and Music Room, Holmes Road, London NW5

Architect: Coffey Architects
Client: St. Patrick’s Primary School
Contractor: Bolt and Heeks
Structural engineer: Rodrigues Associates
Services engineer: Con-Serv
Contract value: £350,000
Date of completion: February 2011
Gross internal area: 60m²


Less is More’ sums up this tiny yet delightful and ingenious school extension providing a library, music room and store room.  The St Patrick’s School Music room and Library is that rare combination of a space that allows for a wide variety of uses whilst retaining the intimate and personal atmosphere of a bespoke single-function design.

The design process took the client from their original notion of two separate ‘rooms’ on the roof of the existing building to a more useable ground level single volume that was far less disruptive to construct. The effortless and elegant integration of structure, internal finishes and fixed furniture creates a place that generations of pupils will fondly remember in years to come.

The building has a simplicity that comes from a straightforward plan and the prevailing expression of just two materials: timber, clearly articulated in the interior of the space, and zinc sheets on the external skin.  This clarity and truth to materials is all too often absent in buildings of this scale.  Internally the space is lined on three sides by bookshelves at ground level and the storage display of musical instruments on the first floor mezzanine.  The central volume created by this arrangement is open and flexible to allow for both musical practice/performance and also as a group reading area – in fact whatever the school requires.

However, this simple arrangement is literally given a third dimension by the openable glass wall which, with a freestanding external canopy, creates an informal proscenium for play. The deceptively simple external canopy links the new and the old and provides a technical and visual language that can, as funds permit, be readily applied to enhance and revitalise other parts of the original 1960s building. The canopy also elegantly enhances the functionality of both the indoor and outdoor uses.



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