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First look

Haverstock completes fully modular primary school in Tufnell Park

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The school has been rebuilt and expanded on the same site from a 1.5-form entry to a three-form entry school, together with a 72-place nursery and provision for two-year-olds

This project for Tufnell Park primary school was tendered through the IESE contractor framework as a two-stage Design and Build procurement route. With an offsite construction solution defined by the main contractor, it was Haverstock’s first fully modular building.

Community and school consultation was a key aspect of the design development, from the placement of the building on the site, to the adjacencies of spaces and the materials and visual appearance of the building.

04 tufnell park school

04 tufnell park school

Source: Simon Kennedy

The modules were delivered and installed within five and a half weeks and the three-story building was watertight, with the majority of internal finishes complete, in less than one and a half months months. The practice worked closely with the modular building specialist contractor to fine-tune, co-ordinate and deliver a new school that meets EFA affordability requirements and Building Bulletin standards.

The new building’s exterior language of masonry and laser-cut screeens is designed to give a rich visual and positive civic presence through its materials and colours. The materials pallete of high-quality bricks and stone bands directly relates to the language of neighbouring buildings, intended to ground it in the surrounding conservation area. Inside the new building provides both classroom spaces and a series of shared and group spaces. 

The existing school remained in full operation during the works.

03 tufnell park school

03 tufnell park school

Source: Simon Kennedy

Architect’s’ view

Tufnell Park Primary School is our first fully modular building, which was handed over just in time for the start of term in September 2019. We are incredibly proud of the building and we would challenge anyone to guess that it is in fact a modular building.

The site is set within a conservation area and, as such, there was a strong desire for design quality that is appropriate for the surrounding context. Therefore, while it is a fully modular building, the external skin is a traditional masonry construction. It was an incredibly proud moment when the scaffolding was dropped, revealing the brickwork and concrete banding details, large windows and fretwork screens 

I particularly love the bespoke gold laser cut metal screens, which act as a fixed louvre mesh to the large sliding windows. The Victorian stucco detailing of the adjacent properties inspired our design for the laser-cut screens.

Modular schools are becoming more and more commonplace, and the newly released DfE Offsite Schools £3 billion framework will exacerbate this further. So like it or not, as a profession, architects need to embrace offsite construction. In doing so, we can engrain design quality to create exemplar learning environments that our children need and deserve.

We think Tufnell Park shows this is possible. How did we achieve this? We worked collaboratively with the specialist subcontractor from stage 3 through to handover. As lead designer, we had full ownership of the external packages and throughout the detail design process, Haverstock oversaw the entire project to ensure the original design intent was maintained through the working drawing process to completion.

Kate McGechan, project architect, Haverstock

06 tufnell park school

06 tufnell park school

Source: Simon Kennedy

Client’s view

From the outset, the process was one of consultation and collaboration. Haverstock went out of their way to establish a deep understanding of our context, our community and our vision. At each stage, David and Claire presented us with a range of creative options to explore further, ensuring final decisions and solutions were well considered, and always driven by the needs of the school. We now have a building that functions extremely well and provides the purposeful, exciting and aspirational environment our children and families deserve.

Martin Scarborough, headteacher, Tufnell Park Primary School

Ground floor plan

Ground floor plan

Source: Haverstock

Ground floor plan

Project data

Start on site February 2018
Completion date August 2019
Gross internal floor area 3,374 m²
Gross (internal + external) site area 7,623 m²
Form of contract or procurement route 2-Stage Design and Build 
Construction cost £13 million
Architect Haverstock
Client London Borough of Islington
Structural engineer Curtins
M&E consultant Ridings Consulting Engineers
QS Morgan Sindall
Specialist modular sub contractor ECO Modular
Landscape consultant Fabrik
Employers agent Baily Garner
CDM coordinator Baker Hicks
Approved building inspector
Main contractor Morgan Sindall
CAD softward used Revit

Environmental data

Annual CO2 emissions 24,600kg
Percentage of floor area with daylight factor >2% 82%
On-site energy generation percentage 17%
Airtightness at 50pa 4.26 m3/h.m²
Heating and hot water load 15.94 kwh/m²/yr

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Looks like an elegant and logical solution derived from working closely with all parties from brief to completion - the urban tone contrasts nicely with similarly elegant and restrained the residential centre recently completed by the firm.

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