Parkside First School in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire is a relic from an idealistic period in school building. Built in the 1960s using the clasp system, the original classrooms are light, airy, and elegant, and the building has since been sensitively extended by Cullum and Nightingale. The most recent addition, by Stephen Davy Peter Smith Architects, is less heroic, but altogether more jolly in appearance. 'What we've tried to do is keep the rhythm and the scale of the school but use colour and planes to give it its own identity,' says architect Lyndon Bates. The project hss a similar aesthetic language to that used at Carterhatch School, with planes of wall separated by planes of glass, but uses timber for both cladding and frame. The red picks up on the facade of the existing building, the blue and yellow are just for fun.
Squeezed into what was a small grassed courtyard between the dining hall and the access road, this tiny insertion has its own entrance, and can operate either independently or as part of the main school. Although its primary purpose is to serve children with special learning difficulties, the building also acts as an outreach teaching facility, advisory support centre, training centre, and as a facility for the local police. As well as the obvious security advantages of having part of the school in more or less constant use, the involvement of so many different groups increased the possible avenues for attracting funding to the project.
The range of users means that the space has to be flexible. Aside from a tiny reception/office area and two store cupboards (one of which has the plumbing to be turned into a wc), the extension is a single space which may be split in two by sliding doors. A second set of sliding doors allows the new building to act as an extension of the existing dining room. Parts of the building are rough round the edges - finishing and decorating were undertaken by parents as a cost-saving device. But it is a laudable achievement that for £100,000 the school and the community have gained a highly idiosyncratic building, and a valuable resource.