Organic curves create three distinct internal areas, defined by roof lights, acoustic timber ceilings and plenty of natural light
RIBA National Award winner 2021
RIBA London Regional Award winner 2021
BDP for Francis Holland School
Contract value: undisclosed
Nestled on a tight urban site and bounded by back gardens and a Tube cutting, this building replaces a barren courtyard with a lush roof garden sitting on top of a modest library. In so doing, a transient space that knits together various parts of the school has become a destination, much loved by staff and students.
Driven by the school’s ambition to provide first-rate wellbeing and creative facilities and needing to unlock parts of the site to do this, the project is part of a wider plan to use every space in this 140-year-old school. The result is a lyrical resolution of the very real challenges of both its size and issues with circulation.
The library is magical. The detail of the roof’s meeting with the perimeter is elegantly worked to marry pragmatic demands for daylight with strong poetic ambition. Sculptural rooflights punctuate the reading zones within, flooding them with daylight and connecting the library to the outside world. With detailing restrained elsewhere, this roof structure has room for expression.
Up above, the urban garden too is charming and delightful, creating a safe central place for students to meet and interact across all year groups. Now well-established with lush green plants and flowers, neighbours, students and staff can enjoy this reinvented external space.
This is a complex brief on a challenging site, executed with love and care to create something enduring and special. The result is both unpretentious and rich; a careful palette of materials brought together in sumptuous detail to realise a clear poetic concept with admirable success.