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The Learning Tree Nursery, Romford

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

Delve's light-filled, timber-lined education space is housed on the ground floor of a former warehouse and has arches, portholes and rounded corners to delight young learners

The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects
The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects Credit: © Fred Howarth

2024 RIBA London Award

The Learning Tree Nursery, Romford
Delve Architects for Storal
Contract value: Confidential
GIA: 460m2

This is a retrofit of the ground floor of a former manufacturing warehouse to accommodate a children’s nursery. The fact that the project was conceived and delivered on site within six months of inception, and to a budget of less than £100 per square foot, is impressive. With limited external frontage, the architects have cleverly arranged the plan around a multifunctional central space. The immediate impact on arrival is that of a light, airy, welcoming place defined by the use of timber. The simple, mellow coloured interior belies a rich learning environment that showcases the importance of sustainability and the use of natural resources.

  • The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects.
    The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects. Credit: © Fred Howarth
  • The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects.
    The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects. Credit: © Fred Howarth
  • The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects.
    The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects. Credit: © Fred Howarth
  • The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects.
    The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects. Credit: © Fred Howarth
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The nursery is designed to accommodate up to 120 children between the ages of three months and four years. The smaller rooms that flow around the central space share their views and light by way of glazed screens. Originally used as a dining room, the central space now serves as a children’s rest area. ‘Poche’ spaces have been created within doubled up walls, and these neatly accommodate baby changing facilities, storage and services. Playful details and shaped forms and fixtures animate the spaces. Walls have rounded corners. There are arches, portholes and long and low trough sinks. There is a small outdoor play area, which is artfully screened from the road.

Natural materials are used throughout. The doors and partition walls are pine-faced ply veneer. There is no plasterboard. Floors are recycled rubber and all finishes are low in volatile organic compounds.

  • The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects.
    The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects. Credit: © Fred Howarth
  • The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects.
    The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects. Credit: © Fred Howarth
  • The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects.
    The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects. Credit: © Fred Howarth
  • The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects.
    The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects. Credit: © Fred Howarth
  • The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects.
    The Learning Tree Nursery by Delve Architects. Credit: © Fred Howarth
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The aim was to make the existing envelope as thermally efficient as possible. All the original single-glazed windows have been replaced. An air-source heat pump system enables both heating and cooling, with mechanical ventilation with heat recovery and electric radiators.

The Learning Tree Nursery is delightful, inspiring and educational. There is a real sense of wellbeing for all that come here – children, staff, parents, guardians and visitors.

See the rest of the RIBA London winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here.

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com.

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Contractor Hush Minoan Partnership

Environmental/M&E engineer Seneca Group

Acoustic engineer ALN Acoustics

Approved building inspector Assent

 

Credit: Delve Architects

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