The expansion of the existing 1FE Julians Primary School to provide a new fully accessible 3FE school on a challenging sloping urban site to new space standards (BB99 less 15%) which were later formalised in BB103.

Design Approach

The massive 12m slope on the site initially posed a major challenge to the design team, particularly in light of the accessibility aspirations, reduced space standards & budget.

However, by working collaboratively with the design team, we were able to propose a solution that maximised the site by working with the site’s natural contours & levels, allowing us to achieve the following:

  • school built into the hillside, which reduced the footprint to be less than the existing school building & opened up the site to ensure space standards were met for external playspace & amenity
  • good balance between cut-&-fill, reducing cost significantly
  • 3 floors which utilized site levels to allow each floor to have direct access to external teaching & playspaces without relying on terraces or roof gardens
  • an almost perfect north-south orientation, allowing maximum passive control of daylighting & solar control

The arrangement of the school allowed for clear access in & around the school, allowing the site to become almost entirely (DD) accessible through carefully crafted landscape & use of the central lift to provide access to each level & associated landscaped areas.

During our engagement with the planning department pre-planning, it was discovered that the school site had been declared a Site of Important Nature Conservation due to its natural habitat areas. We responded to this by making it a core concept of the school, significantly increasing the biodiversity of the site & referencing this in both the interior design & selection of materials, both externally & internally.

‘I like the school because I like the space in the playground. My favourite part is the hall’

Ra’ees, JPS Year 2 Pupil

"Throughout London, we face the problem of expanding schools to meet massive growth in demand - increasingly difficult as easier sites were developed long ago. At Julian’s, the school has been trebled in size on a very difficult site with major changes in level, in the heart of a residential area, & therefore serious constraints. Clever design has created a scheme which takes advantage of this situation, maximising links to outside play space, minimising the effect on adjoining properties, focussed on creating the best educational space while keeping costs much lower than similar projects"

Mike Pocock – Delivery Director, London Borough of Lambeth