In December 2013 the Stephen Perse Foundation appointed CDC to consider a masterplan for Dame Bradbury’s school, Saffron Walden. This is a Junior School for both girls and boys which operates across a series of Edwardian and more modern buildings on a large site close to the town centre.
Over time the school had developed in an ad-hoc manner, and the opportunity existed to rationalise some of the spaces whilst seeking an enhancement of facilities generally. Working in partnership with the senior management of the Foundation, CDC undertook a detailed stakeholder consultation (parents, staff and pupils) to analyse aspects of the school that ‘worked’, whilst better understanding aspects that needed to change. In this way, a condensed brief was formed over several weeks that began to inform a series of suggestions as to how the school could develop, and this was ratified by the school governing body.
The masterplan was proposed to be implemented in three separate phases to ensure that the school could remain fully operational whilst construction progressed. Phase one centred on co-locating its Pre-Prep years around a shared external courtyard that allowed the flow of learning across it and across year groups. Additionally, the Reception year was located into a partially unoccupied building that was greatly altered and enhanced; this allowed the conversion of an under-used yard into an enclosed shared ‘role-play’ area, now shared with the Kindergarten.
The provision of a new staircase solved existing circulatory problems for the school whilst also altering the fire escape strategy; this enabled the school office to open up and provide a new attractive reception for visitors and pupils.
Phase one also indicated the relocation of the school library into an annexe building, allowing the use of the library to spill outside onto adjacent landscaped areas. The school had previously made a ‘Tree of Knowledge’ that sat in its existing library space, and to maintain this important symbol of the school it was agreed to centre the new library around a much larger tree. This structure allowed children to climb into its ‘trunk’ to curl up comfortably with a book, whilst its ‘roots’ provided niches for books and seating for more formal story-telling. Branches that can support speakers and artefacts spread out towards an acoustic panel canopy coloured in greens and yellows. The library is completed with LED-lit book-shelving and a terraced seating area for group learning.
masterplan - ground floor
masterplan - first floor
masterplan - hub space