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FIRST LOOK

Copper and brick primary school completed by Conran + Partners in Ealing

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Conran + Partners has replaced outdated 1970s buildings on the site and freed up land for housing, which helped fund the school’s construction

St John’s Primary School is a new building in Ealing which forms part of the ongoing £150 million Green Man Lane estate regeneration masterplanned by Conran + Partners. 

The firm’s design approach aimed to provide a ‘homely’ setting in order to create a comfortable learning environment. The new school’s form and scale alludes to traditional house typologies, being relatively low-rise and domestic in scale, with a pitched roof.

2464stjohns01

2464stjohns01

The new building’s location was moved to both run more along its boundary – engaging with surrounding streets – and to free up land so that 56 units of new housing could be built.

Across its three storeys, Conran + Partners’ design has increased the internal area of the school, allowing student capacity to grow from 420 to 630, as well as creating a nursery with up to 100 places. 

The school’s entrance sits on the street and is marked by a copper-clad section and a glazed corner. Buff brick on the rest of the façade is designed to tie the school in with the rest of the Green Man Lane regeneration masterplan. 

Natural ventilation and access to daylight are facilitated inside with large windows and skylights, while small-scale elements such as timber toilet pods, canopies and pop-out windows are designed to create ‘calm and community’ amid the school’s urban context. 

2464stjohns05 alternate

2464stjohns05 alternate

Architect’s view

We selected robust, natural materials across all areas of the project, from pre-oxidised copper to weathered buff brick, to blend seamlessly with the material palette of the wider masterplan and ensure that the new building ages gracefully. Classrooms are clustered around group rooms and common areas to provide each age group with its own distinct sense of place within the wider school community, while existing trees are now incorporated as a central feature in the external play area.

The entrance is demarcated by a floating, oblique copper form which sits at the junction of street and building elements, and provides the primary metal element that informs the design detail throughout. A glazed corner provides transparency and signifies both the main school entrance and the circulation axis through the building. Metal seams and vertical fins to the hall block provide the street elevation with a defined edge and face, supporting a strong vertical emphasis that will set the school apart from the proposed neighbouring residential elements of the development while complementing the urban context in which it sits.

Lee Davies, partner, Conran + Partners

Stjohns240518 225

Stjohns240518 225

Client’s view 

Children spend half of their waking day in school – they deserve to learn in a welcoming, encouraging and attractive environment. Furthermore, it is invaluable for children who may be living in overcrowded accommodation to be able to learn in a space that offers ample light and space. Therefore, we recognised early on the value good design could bring to the new school and seized the opportunity to consult with the design team. From the design concept onwards, we were involved in a number of briefings where Conran + Partners listened to what we had to say and understood our ambitions – it was a privilege to be involved in this process and their response went beyond our expectations. 

In working closely with Conran + Partners, our knowledge and understanding of St John’s helped to tailor the design of the new school to the needs of those who use it. We are thrilled with the result. It is a school not only used by us but shaped by us. The new building has been embraced by staff, parents and – most importantly – pupils. Our school now delivers teaching spaces that benefit from enhanced natural light and more spacious rooms and corridors.

Marilyn Borlase, head teacher, St John’s Primary School

2464 exploded axo colour

2464 exploded axo colour

Project data

Start on site 
Spring 2016
Completion 
Summer 2018
Gross internal floor area 3,937m²
Form of contract Bespoke Design and Build
Construction cost Approx £12.3 million 
Architect Conran + Partners
Executive architect Gibberd
Client London Borough of Ealing/Ealing Education
Structural engineer Ridge and Partners (formerly Upton McGougan)
MEP engineer Aecom (formerly URS)
Planning consultant Savills
Acoustic consultant Sharps Redmore
Transport consultant Project Centre
Landscape designer Hannah Oakden
Arboriculturalist Keen Consultants
Ecological consultant Middlemarch Environmental
Daylight & sunlight consultant eb7
Fire engineer FDS Consult
Heritage consultant Turley Heritage
Flood risk Ridge
Project manager John Rowan and Partners 

Main contractor Rydon Construction
CAD software used 
MicroStation and Revit 

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