The design of Kingsgate primary school draws on an adjacent railway line as a source of inspiration, rather than being a nuisance
The new school in Camden comprises two two-storey blocks, connected at first floor with a wide link bridge that doubles as a cover for a ground-level, column-lined route that runs alongside the school’s southern edge.
The blocks, which are built with a structure of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), sit along the perimeter of the site to maximise the external area, which includes a ball games area, running track, natural play area, science garden and quiet seating area.
Nla18 kingsgate 02 siteplan maclav
CLT has also been used internally throughout, finished with a white stain. Large picture windows in the shared resource areas at first floor level provide views of the railway while doubling as acoustic shielding for the classrooms along the southern edge of the block.
The playground embraces and complements the building, offering differentiated play zones. The external areas carefully balance safe yet challenging play and provide an enjoyable, attractive and accessible environment for all pupils.
The sawtooth roof profiles of the teaching block – reminiscent of the site’s industrial heritage – maximise calm north light to the teaching spaces, located in the heart of the site along its northern boundary.
Kingsgate School by Maccreanor Lavington
The Thameslink rail line to the north is a significant source of noise and posed complex technical considerations associated with construction adjacent to a railway line and the acoustic comfort of the teaching spaces. The design approached this element as added value to the spatial character of the school.
At first floor, the presence of the railway is captured through generous picture windows to the shared resource spaces. These are magical spaces with expansive views of high-speed trains, much to the delight of the six and seven-year-olds for whom the space has been designed.
The school hall, with a double-pitched roof referencing the historic railway sheds once present on the site, is designed for combined use for whole school assemblies or can be sub-divided, allowing different uses to operate concurrently. It also offers direct access from the public realm for shared use by the local community.
Kingsgate School by Maccreanor Lavington, section
The new building has had a big impact on the learning of the children. The classrooms are big and full of light. The storage has been well thought out and resources are easily accessible to the children. The shared areas outside the classrooms have given us the flexibility to teach children in smaller groups when we need to.
Headteacher, Kingsgate School
Size School buildings: 2,573m² School site: 4,850m²
Cost £18 million
Client London Borough of Camden
Contractor Graham Construction
Structural & civil engineer Price & Myers
Sustainability and energy consultant Atelier Ten
Acoustic consultant Gillieron Scott Acoustic Design
Landscape architect Jonathan Cook Landscape Architects
Ecology consultant The Ecology Consultancy
Planning consultant Tibbalds Planning & Urban Design
Transport consultant Alan Baxter Associates
Arboricultural consultant Raphael Skeratt
CDM coordinator Calford Seaden
Quantity aurveyor Mott MacDonald (planning); Sweett Group (school technical design)