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The village school provides a distinctive education for children between the ages of 3 and 11. The proposals address the need to double pupil numbers to 60 with buildings that enable all its functional, teaching and spiritual needs to be met. The bold and exciting architecture is inspired by the rolling forms of the Lakeland hills. It embodies a ‘child-centred’ approach to teaching that supports the totality of the children’s educational experiences through the density and variety of interaction with teachers, nature and each other.

Following considerable consultation with the school, proposals evolved that were shaped by an understanding of its curriculum and methodology. Two natural forms enclose three teaching areas and they are linked with each other and an administrative building, by a ‘heart’ space. The spatial configurations range between open and secluded settings that are responsive to the needs of individual instruction, class teaching and loosely directed group interaction. The hierarchy of enclosure is adaptable such that the learning environment can be further refined by the teaching staff.

The construction of the organic volumes draws on boat-building technology. Their form and timber finishes combine to create a stimulating learning environment. Concealed in their walls are ICT systems, teaching aids and capacious storage. Being the hub for visual connections with both the teaching spaces and the landscape, the ‘heart’ space is the focus of the schools activities. Its gridshell roof delicately touches the other elements and provides an abundance of natural light. The space opens on to the garden which as well as being an appealing place for play, is designed as a workshop for the natural sciences.

Project information

  • Client

    Grasmere CoE VA Primary School

  • Status


  • Area

    700 sq m

  • Start


  • Completion


  • Elements

    3 flexible learning environments
    Central ‘heart space’ linking buildings
    New village square
    Community building
    Post Office
    Doctor’s surgery
    Meeting rooms
    BREEAM rating target: “Outstanding”

Core Team