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Cottrell & Vermeulen completes Will Alsop-inspired school in Peckham

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Grey brick is set against bright colours at the new Bellenden Primary School

Occupying a site surrounded by terraced streets, the new school forms a U-shape in order to enclose a central playground. New classrooms, a separate reception and nursery, a main hall and a music room all help cater for rising pupil numbers.

The building is surrounded by a grey brick boundary wall that mirrors the garden walls of neighbouring properties, dotted with an informal arrangement of low-level circular openings providing views out.

Credit  anthony coleman 4

Credit anthony coleman 4

Aiming to bring a ‘sense of joy’, Cottrell & Vermeulen has used large coloured panels to break up exterior elevations and brightly painted walls and murals internally. 

Two large roof terraces maximise outdoor space, with 23 new trees being included onsite, and an undercroft below the classroom spaces provides covered external play-spaces.

Architect’s view

Our school was inspired by an early visit to the Faraday school  in Walworth by Will Alsop, with its colour and open staircases to a first floor of teaching space in the round. We tried to apply these ideas to the new Bellenden School by creating our own colourful and contextual primary school.

Richard Cottrell, director, Cottrell & Vermeulen Architecture 

Belle 0371 pln 04 001 ground floor plan

Belle 0371 pln 04 001 ground floor plan

Project data

Date of completion February 2018
Internal area
Cost Undisclosed
Contract type Design & Build
Architect Cottrell & Vermeulen Architecture
Client Southwark Council
Contractor Morgan Sindall Group
Structural engineer Waterman Structures
M&E consultant Waterman Building Services
Sustainability engineer Drayton Beaumont
Project manager Mace

Cut out 2

Cut out 2

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I never fail to be amazed by how bleak the playgrounds are in new school projects. This is no longer acceptable, and our designers should no better these days.

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