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Astudio completes BSF-backed school overhaul in East London

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Work has completed on Astudio’s £17 million remodelling of Sir John Cass and Red Coat Church of England Secondary School, Stepney Way, in East London.

The project, which combined new build elements and the refurbishment of the existing 1960s and 1970s stock, was delivered through the now demised Buildings Schools for the Future programme.

The overhauled school in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets will house 1,495 pupils aged 14-19 and features a two-storey performing arts centre and a ‘sensitive’ five-storey extension to the stairwell of the original main building.

George Brennan, director at Astudio Architecture, said: ‘Remodelling school sites and combining refurbishment with new build to maximise their role as centres of education both for pupils and the wider community is now the basis of most school projects. 

Remodelling sites and combining refurbishment with new build is now the basis of most school projects

‘By first considering all the options and then creating a masterplan, rather than approaching school regeneration piecemeal, the best possible outcome for the budget can be achieved.

‘Having worked very closely with the school to achieve its vision, we have developed a creative and considered design that has transformed [it], not only in terms of the facilities it now offers, but in its ability to engender pride, inspire and become integrated into the community.’


The architect’s view

Three new buildings, carefully arranged to stitch together the refurbished main building, have been built on the school’s tight 3.5 acre site.  The new school features a strong and welcoming entrance, a mixture of new and refurbished classrooms, a new Performing Arts Centre, and a state-of-the-art Virtual Learning Centre to act as a hub for learning.

To maximise the school site, where previously buildings and extensions were poorly configured in relation to each other with a number of “leftover spaces” and no long term planning strategy, Astudio worked with the school to create a masterplan to improve and enhance the experience of all those using the site.  Carefully considered external spaces bring the school together, hard-surfacing of all available external areas provides much needed play space alongside tree-planting and landscaping, which help to “green” the site.

The design celebrates and emphasises the striking difference between new and legacy buildings, with ceramic tiles used for the new buildings in contrast with the brick and concrete of the existing 1960s and 1970s structures.


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