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Brandlehow Primary School

Series of extensions to a listed modern school by Erno Goldfinger formed from prefabricated timber elements clad with cedar boards.


Franziska Wagner/team51.5­ architects



Brandlehow Road SW15 2ED

Sat 10am-5pm. Regular tours. Last entry 3.30pm. Max 25 at one time.

East Putney


270, 220, 337, 14, 74

  • Architect on site
  • Green features
  • Partial disabled
  • Toilets available

BRANDLEHOW PRIMARY SCHOOL The new infants_ classroom at Brandlehow, a community primary schoolin south-west London, represents the successful integration of a contemporary building into a historic postwar school. The renowned Hungarian-born modernist architect Ern” Goldfinger designed the original single-storey building in 1952 and extended it in 1963. The architect and engineers worked closely together to produce an integrated design based on prefabricated units. Considerations that determined the choice of a modular system included speed of fabrication and erection, and low cost during the austerity of the postwar years. Only ten elements were used for the entire building, which was designed for construction by hand with very light machinery. The new classroom responds to the scale and form of Goldfinger_s design and develops its key principles of natural lighting, natural ventilation and prefabrication. In doing this, and following the design and construction guidance in the former Department for Education and Skills _Classroom of the Future_ programme (published in 2001), it focuses on energy-saving. It also addresses sustainability by using elements that include materials from renewable sources and that can be recycled. The new classroom, designed by team 51.5ø architects, is assembled from prefabricated solid timber wall and ceiling elements, which are highly insulated and clad in hardwood boarding. These materials will weather and mature over time. A glazed structure links the new classroom to the corridor system of the existing school, making it easily accessible, and a generously sized ramp connects the rear of the classroom with the lower playground. Carefully placed windows and rooflights bring different qualities of lightinto the depth of the space, and the large south-facing sliding doors allow direct access to the outdoor play areas, which are protected from direct sunlight by an existing tree. All windows can be opened to allow for cross ventilation, while the untreated timber generates a pleasant scent noted by teachers and pupils alike. A smaller, low level window, designed with children in mind, allows them to see out of the room while sitting on the floor. _The space offers much flexibility for teaching _ a new style of classroom for a new century_, comments Peter Johnson, Chair of Governors. The building has a sedum roof, which helps achieve a constant, comfortable temperature within the room while allowing for maximum evaporation of rainwater. The roof has been designed to allow for installation of solar collectors or photovoltaic panels in the future, should funding become available. The new extension is placed on the edge of thesite, close to the street and the pedestrian entrance gate. According to its Chair of Governors, the new building has increased the visibility of the school in the local community. Moreover, its location and independent access allow it to be used by different community groups outside school hours. _I like the big sliding doors _ it_s different from any classroom I_ve ever been in_, says one of the pupils. _This stunning classroom has fitted well alongside the Goldfinger building. It very elegantly makes a statement about continued investment in and progress of the children who learn in it_, Peter Johnson, Chair of Governors From Learning By Design: London, Open House Exemplar ¸ Crown Copyright 2007