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LSI completes £7.5m Lewisham special-needs school

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Norwich-based LSI Architects has completed this 3,659m2 school for children with special needs in Lewisham, south London


The £7.5 million brick-clad school has been designed specifically for children on the autistic spectrum.

Arranged around a central landscaped courtyard, the two-storey building’s classrooms are arranged in a U-shape.

The design steps down across the site making the use of level changes to separate key stages and age groups while providing terraced play areas.

The 154-pupil school was originally located in a sixties building but it was no longer fit for purpose and so funding was secured to build a new school back in 2012.

Brent Knoll School, Lewisham by LSI Architects

Brent Knoll School, Lewisham by LSI Architects

Architect’s view

The scheme follows key principles in the design of effective environments for pupils with autism and places pupils’ needs at the heart of the design. There is a real sense of progression though the school and a feeling of cohesion. The classrooms in each wing overlook a central landscaped courtyard and play areas, with direct access from ground floor classrooms, to further promote a sense of togetherness. 

The main entrance and double height lobby, positioned along the step in the site, encourages open views through the circulation stair well to the courtyard, to give a feeling of openness and promote passive supervision. 

Natural light, ventilation and suitable acoustics formed an integral part of the brief from the outset and large windows in every room flood the space with light. Classrooms around the central courtyard and the main hall incorporate passive ventilation with CO2 sensors to optimise internal learning environment. 

The building features a simple palette of materials for their durability, and is predominantly clad in buff/yellow brick, with meticulous brickwork detailing which characterises and enlivens the street elevation, and organised as a series of two-storey, terrace-like segments to help integrate the building into its urban surroundings.

Brent Knoll School, Lewisham by LSI Architects

Brent Knoll School, Lewisham by LSI Architects

Project data

Location Lewisham, south London
Type of project new-build
Client London Borough of Lewisham
Architect LSI Architects
Structural engineer MLM
M&E consultant MLM
Main contractor Lakehouse
Area 3,659m2
Form of contract and/or procurement Design and Build JCT
Total cost £7.5 million

Brent Knoll School, Lewisham by LSI Architects

Brent Knoll School, Lewisham by LSI Architects

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