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AJ Architecture Awards 2018: School Project of the Year

Marlborough Primary School by Dixon Jones is School Project of the Year at the AJ Architecture Awards 2018

‘This ticked all the boxes,’ enthused the judges. ‘It’s a happy school, very vibrant, with generous spaces underpinned by sound logic. It’s an uplifting environment.’

The redevelopment brief for Marlborough School was certainly challenging. The local authority required a large primary school with over 2,500m2 of external play areas; as well as a new commercial building featuring offices and retail, plus a pedestrian link to be provided across this constrained urban site. So how to achieve a significant increase in density, while also creating a fitting replacement for a Victorian school that had stood on the site since 1878?

The ingenious solution was a stepped section across the site, establishing a series of cascading ‘garden terraces’, with a rich diversity of external play areas accessed directly from classrooms. It allows larger communal spaces to be created underneath, which are bathed in light from two central rooflights.

This ambitious scheme required extensive dialogue with the local planning authority. The building engages with the public realm with a welcoming community entrance and adopts a low-energy passive approach to minimise running costs and future maintenance: generous floor-to-ceiling heights promote passive, single-sided ventilation and allow daylight to penetrate deep into the plan.

‘The section is very clever and works really hard,’ said the judges. ‘It is key to unlocking the site. This project has mediated the boundaries very well. It is an exciting space and a proper community school.’ 



  • Bellenden Primary School by Cottrell & Vermeulen Architecture
  • Broomlands Primary School by Stallan-Brand Architecture + Design
  • Channing School by BuckleyGrayYeoman
  • Garnock Community Campus by jmarchitects
  • Kingsgate Primary Lower School by MaccreanorLavington
  • St Teresa’s Sixth Form Centre by IF_DO
  • The Belham Primary School by Haverstock

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