LocationChurch Green, Witney, Oxfordshire OX28 4AW, UK
Text description provided by the architects. The objective of the proposal is to provide St Maryâ€™s with a much needed replacement foundation stage classroom and additional amenities. The new scheme is intended to provide the foundation stage class with an exciting and engaging learning environment to enhance the childrenâ€™s school experience at such a vital early stage in their school life. The three main elements of the project will be spread linearly through the building and staggered to create three distinctive sections to the built form and thus creating multiple roof pitches that reflect the form of the main school. The staggering of the main elements will create opportunities for extra light to be drawn in the building through the use of both high and low level windows, reducing the need for artificial lighting whilst creating additional window seating. The staggering of the scheme not only acts to break up the linear mass of the scheme but offers a much improved use of land and maximises the potential for the surrounding playground and gardens.
The proposal will involve the demolition of the existing canteen with a foot print of 163m2 and the erection of a new foundation stage classroom and external covered play area with a smaller foot print of 160m2 which includes 110m2 of new internal floor area and 30m2 of external covered decked play area. The new building will provide a 73m2 foundation stage classroom suitable for up to 30 pupils with WC facilities, a disabled WC/washroom and a 18m2 additional teaching space available for use by the whole school.
The layout has been designed to break up the length of the site and reflect the various pitched roofs of the existing school building, whilst creating a engaging internal and external environment. The form of the building has been staggered in relation to the separate functions of the scheme. The front section of the building will provide a covered external play area linked directly to a newly defined playground surrounded by a new 1.1m height timber fence for use by the foundation stage only. The central section of the scheme will accommodate the level access entrance and cloak area and the main classroom space which will include wet and dry areas and a raised play alcove. The final section will be split into two creating the washroom facilities and an additional teaching space for use by smaller groups. In addition the staggered form of the building creates the opportunity for an enclosed secret garden cradled between the three elements of the building and the hedgerow along the boundary of the site. Externally the access path will be repositioed to create a large play area for the foundation stage classroom. The area to the south of the new building will be landscaped with graded grass to the rear garden area. The existing timber shed will be rotated and moved approximately 3.5m along to boundary to the rear corner of the site.
The proposed foundation stage classroom has been designed to minimise any increase in built form. It will occupy a similar position but with a smaller footprint by 3m2 than the current canteen building, it will also be slightly wider and staggered to break up the mass along the length of the building. The new classroom will remain single storey as the canteen currently is but will have an increased height. The change will be approximately 950mm from the existing roof line height of 3.9m to the proposed height of 4.7m due to the pitched ridge line responding to the change in building width.
Buff brickwork will be used as the primary external surface material for the main build remaining sympathetic to the conservation area whilst creating a contemporary stand alone project. In addition to the brickwork the North elevation facing on to the hidden garden will be rendered white to add to the tactile intentions for space as well as helping to reflect light and brighten up the area. The covered external play area element of the project will be created through the use of a portal frame system clad in cedar shingles giving a warm feel which will weather over time to a soft silver.
The building envelope will be broken up with windows of various sizes from narrow floor to ceiling windows on the south elevation to large extruded bay windows with internal seating. Powder coated aluminium windows and doors will be used externally to offer both a long low maintenance life span and provide high thermal insulation properties. The combination of the proposed materials should create an aesthetically pleasing modern building that responds to its surroundings and reflecting the forms of the area, enhancing the school and providing the much needed new foundation stage classroom.