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AJ Architecture Awards 2018: Project of the Year (under £250k)

’An awful lot of building for not a lot of money’ is how one judge described Studio Weave’s Woodland Classrooms at Belvue School

Located close to the A40 in the London Borough of Ealing, Belvue is a secondary school for students with moderate to severe learning difficulties and a range of other needs. Working with a modest budget, Studio Weave was asked to create a set of new and distinctive classrooms which would make the most of an adjacent woodland the school has custody over.

The practice’s response was to work with students to imaginatively engage with this natural asset. A narrative was arrived at whereby the classrooms acted as a gateway between the familiar school territory and the magical, mysterious world beyond. Spaces include ‘cosy lounge’ which is used for workshops and woodland activities, ‘sociable kitchen’, which includes a café, food preparation area and group dining, and ‘messy barn’, which allows for outdoor learning in all weather. All of them are intended to encourage students to become more autonomous and take on extra responsibilities, thereby improving their employment prospects.

This project has created 150m2 of extracurricular spaces with a notable domestic quality. It impressed the judges with its highly functional and economical design, driven by a strong rationale. 

‘It’s an awful lot of building for not a lot of money,’ one commented. Another said: ‘The narrative came from the client, who was able to explain the design at all levels and only had good things to say about Studio Weave.’ 


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