Described by Louise Goodison of Cazenove Architects as 'typical of its time', the Simon Marks Jewish Primary School in Stoke Newington, London, built in 1973, was originally constructed on an outsize concrete frame, and finished with 'hideous' brick cladding. With the help of a feasibility study by Cazenove, the school secured funding from the Clore Foundation to build an additional floor on top of the existing single- storey administration block. A timber-frame structure with glulam columns and beams, the extension is largely supported by the existing concrete beams, and cantilevers over the back of the building to form a covered walkway below.
The ground floor has been gutted and replanned to provide a new reception area and additional space for domestic-science and medical rooms. Upstairs rooms are arranged either side of a central corridor, which is lit by a clerestory formed by a 'split' in the wave-shaped roof. High-level windows between classrooms and corridor mean that classrooms benefit from additional natural light from the clerestory and enjoy cross-ventilation. When the fire alarm goes, these windows close while the clerestory windows open, allowing the corridor to act as a smoke lobby. The new upper floor contains a computer room, technology room, language rooms, and staff room. An existing porch had to be strengthened to take the additional load of an outdoor room attached to the staff room, where staff can enjoy a sneaky cigarette.
With its cedar cladding and blue-painted facades, the extension gives some much-needed character to what was previously a rather anonymous looking school.