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FIRST LOOK

EBBA completes remodel of Manchester preschool

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EBBA Architects has extended a modest 1870s building in Swinton to provide much-needed teaching space for a nursery. The project is one of over 100 entries already received for AJ Small Projects 2020

Enter AJ Small Projects 2020 – final deadline this Friday 31 January

The steep pitched roofs of the extension create a tent-like form, clad in hand-stained tiles to reference the existing brick detailing.

Internally, the first-floor plan steps back from the perimeter of the existing building and contains a sequence of smaller rooms offering alternative teaching spaces to those below. Niches within the deep window reveals offer spaces for children to climb into and play.

See a selection of other entries to AJ Small Projects 2020 in the AJ Buildings Library

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Architect’s view 

The Lodge – a former gatehouse to a hospital – was transformed into a nursery and has recently been extended through an ambitious proposal to double the size and provide much-needed teaching space for the growing numbers of children.

Dealing with the nursery’s complicated ageing structure set the project’s limitations and opportunities. Previous architectural interventions, constructed without much regard for the existing building’s architectural qualities or integrity of form, involved a careful process of uncovering and restabilising the building. The result of this investigative process and challenging build has produced a playful design that ties the project to the character of steep pitched roofs around the site, while also trying to create a tent-like form that the children could relate to.

Low-tech sustainable strategies were employed, which are evident in the way the building is assembled; a celebration of ways in which simple materials can come together to make a richer effect. The architecture aims to express an understanding of modern buildings being made of layers, and the banding of the hand-stained exterior imitates the existing brick detailing.

The plan of the first floor is defined by the perimeter of the building, stepping back in places to respect the prominence of the existing window bays. Internally the project offers an impressive set of spaces for early-years learners. Designed as a sequence of smaller rooms, the new teaching space offers opportunities for discovery and exploration. The ceilings rise with the pitch of the roof to create an airy and uplifting learning environment while niches within window reveals offer spaces to climb into and play.

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Project data

Start on site January 2019
Completion July 2019
Gross internal floor area 300m²
Form of contract Design and build
Construction cost £185,000
Architect EBBA Architects
Client Kidzrus Nursery
Structural engineer Forest Hill Design
Services engineer DC Electrical Services
Main contractor
Smethurst

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Readers' comments (1)

  • If ever there was a need for a 'before' image, it's here - and it's remarkable how image 15/15 - 'Elevation in context' - fails to show the true nature of the architecture of the ground floor.
    And, er, what steep-pitched roofs? What hand-stained tiles?
    The upper floor walls appear to be of two-tone profiled fibre cement industrial/agricultural cladding, and the shallow-pitched roof reinforces the impression of a cheap shed - or am I dreaming?

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