Newlands Primary Community school refurb

We recently completed this scheme working with Leicestershire County Council and Willmott Dixon Construction. Newlands Primary school relocated to an existing 1930s school site which had a transformational refurbishment to provide the school with a new home.

Refurbishment projects are often harder to resolve for an interior designer than a new build as you’re trying to tune in to the existing building architecture (rather lovely 1930s period in this case) , strip away the build up of years of detritus and develop a new overarching vision for the scheme. At the same time its important to work with the incoming school to carry over ideas and themes they’ve been using on their old site but at the same time refresh and in some cases re-direct. When it works the results are astonishing.


Sellincourt Refurbishment – Phase One Summer 2015

Sellincourt Primary refurb

Now that the dust has settled we thought it would be useful to report on the Sellincourt Primary refurbishment project.

More on the scheme can be found here

The design intent was to develop an interior scheme that could be deployed throughout the main school building and possibly to Early Years in a phased programme of works. Part of the initial design consultancy time was used to develop an overall scheme for decorations which could be rolled out across the school as and when funds became available.

The building is a standard Victorian period school structure circa 1907 with interesting original features many of which have been preserved despite later modifications. It would be fair to say that the building has suffered in recent years from some unsympathetic building works which have cloaked, over-sailed and in some cases destroyed original features. There was thus the need for some TLC to reveal the architecture and bring the building back to an environment fit for learning.

The first phase of works was scheduled for Summer 2015 during the 6 week holiday period. The works included for most of the ground floor rooms with some exceptions and in particular a complete refurbishment of the two Year 1 classrooms.

The critical drivers for this first phase was to deliver a scheme that was on budget, on time and inspirational for staff and pupils when they returned.

It was an intensive building programme and we learnt quite a few lessons. The positives;

  • We implemented weekly 2-3 hour progress meetings which were used to review and report on activities. Whilst a big time commitment these were vital to monitor and catch and mitigate issues.
  • An HSE / general project file was assembled pre- commencement which was a useful reference during the scheme. This will be useful for future works.
  • The appointment of Wandsworth Building Services was absolutely the right choice. The team were diligent, efficient and provided a superb service throughout the works period. A special mention must be made for our Site Agent without whom the programme targets might have been severely challenged.
  • Refurbishment is a never ending journey – issues were uncovered during the works which had a negative knock on effect on the budget; some issues were parked to be addressed in the future.
  • Demolitions were in general the simplest part of the works, making good afterwards required care and sometimes a light touch. For instance we scraped back loose paintwork on the radiators and repainted due to budgetary concerns; long term it might be better to refurbish the radiators properly and strip back to cast iron.
  • The Year 1 classrooms were a great success. Removing the acoustic panelling, adding a suspended ceiling and new lighting have been transformative.
  • The stripped parquet flooring in the East Hall show what can be achieved when we tackle the main hall. The parquet which is approximately 100 years old now looks like new. It’s a highly valuable floor finish.
  • The removal of the original built in cupboards (a really difficult aesthetic decision – were we being vandals here) and re-decorations of the main hall have made a big difference.
  • The building works have given us a good benchmark of which contractors/ sub contractors should be retained for future works.
  • The resulting finish. Its transformed the Ground Floor spaces, rationalised circulation and made better use of rooms.

And the negatives or shall we say challenges!

  • There was a lot of legacy wiring, equipment and evidence of patched up jobs which needed to be resolved before good progress could be made.
  • We had to omit the Lobby partition works due to the combination of a high quotation and running out of time to seek alternatives. Next time we will need a much longer run up (say plans in place 2 months ahead of work start) to the building programme to avoid being penalised with inflated costs.
  • A building works programme like this has a high impact and demand on individuals’ time. Much more than you think!

So that was the first phase completed. We’ve had a little bit of snagging, a short break and now we’re looking to raise the funds for Summer 2016 Phase 2. The journey continues …


Sellincourt Refurbishment programme updates

We recently ran workshops with Y4 and 5 pupils at Sellincourt to think about and develop ideas for a large digital banner for the new school lobby.

The lobby is part of the refurbishment programme and will be remodelled to include (budgets permitting) a new glazed partition separating the main hall from the visitor holding area and a re-jigged Reception counter. The banner is based on a tree motif derived from existing Victorian ironwork in the school. Pupils drew lots of different trees and also the sorts of things that you might find in the branches. Measuring over 2 metres wide and 4 metres high it should make quite an impression on visitors!


sellincourt banner sellincourt banner

Good news about the Sellincourt Primary school refurb

We’re really pleased to announce that the governors at Sellincourt Primary school, Wandsworth have recently agreed to commit to a interiors refurbishment programme. Sellincourt Primary school is a rather lovely classic victorian school building characterised by extremely high ceilings and some examples of original glazed tiling.

It’s interesting to compare the abundance of quality materials and finishes in the building to current new build school schemes. The main halls for instance have parquet flooring ( incredible m2 expense) and walls are covered in glazed tiles which were both an aesthetic and functional solution to maintaining the wall finishes. Sadly the building interior has been compromised by subsequent ‘tinkering’ but the bones of the building are intact. Our job is going to be to develop an interior scheme for the whole building which will be implemented in stages over the next few years.

Part of the work will also include a hefty dose of pupil and staff engagement with the first workshops starting in December. The idea is that these workshops will generate involvement and ideas for the scheme.

One immediate feature that we’ve spotted is this rather lovely ‘tree’ motif ironwork which we’ve redrawn as a graphic to see how it can be used in the interior design.





Action stations! – it’s a BOA Year 13 video project…

BOA - Machine video still

We’ve been asked to go back to BOA ( Birmingham Ormiston Academy if you didn’t know) to help the Arts Department on a video project that they’re running with their Year 13 students.

Last time we were there was a few years ago when the academy was staging its opening launch event. A spectacular 2 nighter involving all the students in live performance and musical theatre. We created a ‘Memory Box’ installation of artefacts and video projections which was part of the promenade journey through the new building.

This time round the students have been tasked with creating their own videos which will be presented in a installation yet to be designed; probably in the theatre space and involving lots of hanging screens.

I predict lots of hard work and some serious editing ahead….

Blue Coat library refurbishment

Blue Coat glazing before

This is the ‘before’ picture of Blue Coat library refurbishment prior to the manifestation going on to the glazing. In two weeks time things will be looking quite different… designs were generated with pupils which explored imagery that could be associated with the space. Ultimately a simple design of blocks of colour stacked like books was agreed as the best and most appropriate design. See more here

Blue Coat school Library refurb

Blue Coat Library refurbWe’re working with pupils from Blue Coat school to develop ideas and an interior scheme for their library refurbishment which will be taking place this summer. The engagement programme is being funded through Creative Partnerships whilst the refurbishment is being funded through the Department of Children, Schools and Families ( DFCS).

CAN UK is working alongside to document the programme and produce a seres of media outcomes including a DVD and website.

See more here

Brocks Hill Foundation Learning Space

Brocks Hill Primary school Pupils worked with Cantoo in July to design insects motifs which were used within the overall design for the ‘daisy’ gate entranceways. An original intention to create spinning inner daisy wheels was later modified to a fixed inner disc. The fence scheme uses a mixture of natural willow fence panels as well as perforated steel panels painted in a range of colours linked to the colour palette adopted in the interior of the school. Completion is expected by late August 2009.

Fabrication by Form Fabrications, Birmingham

See more here

St Georges Primary school ‘Dragongate’

DragongateThe St Georges Dragon gate was installed on Friday to mark the entrance to the nature area. We undertook workshops with the school classes earlier in the year. Pupils explored mark making and produced clay moulds which were then used to cast the concrete panels. The panels are reminiscent of an original 1970s cast concrete feature on the side of the building from when it was built.

See more here