- Project Architect : Noel Cash
- Client : Hackney New School, Willmott Dixon
- Design Team : Simon Henley, Gavin Hale-Brown, Ken Rorrison, Steve Lyman, Benjamin Cross, Sabine Hogenhout, Sim Rahi, Nima Sardar, Ashmi Thapar
- Building Control : MLM
- Project Manager : Mace
- User Group : Hackney New School
- Total Cost : £11.25 million
- City : London
- Country : United Kingdom
Text description provided by the architects. Hackney New School is a new mixed-ability Free School with a focus on music, combining a 500-pupil secondary school and 200-pupil sixth form.
The site, which is next to the Kingsland Canal basin and in a conservation area, is tight. The 5,500m2 scheme is planned around a central ball court and play space. This is framed by the 6-storey Canal building and the 5-storey Kingsland building which forms a buffer from the noise and fumes of Kingsland Road. The Canal building accommodates a double-height multipurpose dining, music and drama performance space, a floor for music, another for science, the staff room, library, 6th form study and social spaces, and 60% of the secondary school class bases. The Kingsland building accommodates staff and admin, and Art, Design and Technology. The adaptive reuse of a disused telephone exchange on Downham Road accommodates the rest of the classrooms and sixth form seminar spaces, SEN, the changing rooms and storage “warehouse”.
Form, Silhouette and Material
The new warehouse (Canal building) presents a squarish elevation, but with asymmetric haunches, to both basin and the schoolyard. The profile of the southern haunch opens up views of the brick gable wall and zigzag roofline of the next-door grade II listed warehouse. The northern end is marked by a brick chimney and opens up glimpses of the canal basin through the bridges that span between this and the telephone exchange. Much like one would expect of a daylight factory, large evenly distributed windows daylight the interiors. Buttresses exaggerate the verticality of the elevation to the schoolyard, whereas the elevation to the basin has a large horizontal slot cut out of the base putting a different and greater emphasis on the masonry haunches.
The tower (Kingsland Building) is altogether different. The street façade is a tripartite composition. An existing shopfront forms the plinth, above a new precast concrete screen marks the piano nobile, on top of which there is a 3-storey blind brick mass punctured by just one window.
The north and west facades are punctuated by substantial windows, liberally distributed, each orientating an interior to a particular aspect. It is both an expression of the more liberal ADT subjects and an acknowledgement that the city may be the subject matter, and contrasts with the ordered fenestration in the warehouse denoting a more structured pedagogy.
All four buildings are faced in brick. Copings and a number of other details are precast concrete. Windows are powdered coated (ivory, red oxide, salmon pink and dark brown) aluminium and timber composite. Anodised aluminium-faced canopies mark entrances to each building. For the new buildings the contractor selected a steel frame for speed of erection.