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Outdoor classroom, Heronsgate Primary School, London by Burd Haward

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Burd Haward Architects designed a new outdoor teaching space after a successful collaboration as part of the RIBA ‘Greener London’ initiative in 2007

The brief was to create an economic, bespoke outdoor classroom that would build on designs made by the children during an earlier collaboration and accommodate 30-plus children with built-in benches and desks. The structure was designed to be an easily assembled kit, comprising shaped CNC-cut Kerto-Q timber ribs and benches, a translucent, water-resistant polyester covering and an acrylic rooflight. All elements were delivered to site prefinished and constructed over three days.

Cost: £23,500


Architect’s description of enclosure detail

This project’s very limited budget called for a structure that was simple to manufacture and quick to assemble, despite its asymmetric shape.

The design was refined and simplified until only 12 different types of timber component were required. All these - ribs, bracing panels, benches and ring beams – were cut from large sheets of 33 or 45mm-thick Kerto-Q (a laminated veneered lumber) by a five-axis CNC router. The two-part tapering ribs were joined together with concealed resin-bonded M10 steel rods. The benches were then fabricated and all components factory finished with a totally clear, yet UV-stable water-based
wood stain.

The fabric covering was designed as a series of separate segments, with four different types spanning between the ribs in order to simplify installation and the replacement of damaged panels. These segments were supported by Keder rails, fixed along the edge of each rib and tensioned at each base by turnbuckles. Purpose-made galvanised steel base plates and a clear acrylic skylight completed the kit of parts.

After the small concrete pad foundations had been cast, the base plates, frame and canopy were all installed within three days, and watched with much interest by the children and staff of Heronsgate Primary School.

Buddy Haward, partner, Burd Haward Architects

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