Sandringham Primary School is a four-form-entry school with approximately 1000 pupils and 135 staff in Newham, east London. In 2014 Walters & Cohen was asked to undertake a feasibility study for the school. Following an increase in pupil numbers, the school had assumed the brief would provide two or three extra classrooms and early years facilities. Walters & Cohen's feasibility study extended and improved this. Having demonstrated that the existing teaching building was working well, we instead proposed that the new building, Sandringham Central, accommodate the specialist nursery, pre-school and arts spaces the school lacked.
Sandringham Central is a new nursery and specialist teaching facilities for Sandringham Primary School’s main site in the London Borough of Newham. The new building replaces the old nursery, which was tucked away with its back to the street and the local residents it served.
Sandringham Central is a friendly building that fits in with the scale of neighbouring houses. The design has given the school a new presence on Henderson Road; the improved street frontage formalises a spacious, accessible entrance and waiting area, while the zinc cladding, lime-green window reveals and glazing at ground floor level make the school welcoming and visible in its community. The building also becomes the secure line, giving back what would have been the front garden to the pavement and reinstating the rhythm of terraced row.
On the ground floor, the L-shaped nursery and pre-school accommodation has large sliding doors that can be opened completely to enhance the relationship between indoors and out. They spill out to covered and open-air spaces for outdoor learning and play, something the nursery was very keen to offer.
The school’s older pupils access the first-floor classrooms up an external amphitheatre stair that links the Victorian main school building with generous art, music and drama rooms that belie the domestic scale of the new building. Long rooflights flood these classrooms with light, and the children love the timber-lined music and dance spaces, and pitch-roofed form. - Michál Cohen, Director, Walters & Cohen Architects
Sandringham Central sits on the south side of the school site and is sheltered by the main school building, a Victorian ‘triple-decker’ constructed following the 1870 Elementary Education Act (sometimes referred to as The Forster Act) which provided primary education for all children aged five to 13.
Sandringham Central is named after the original school that admitted infants and secondary aged children, and faces Henderson Road, a residential street of East London terraced housing built at the same time as the school. The site for the new building is in a gap in the terrace created by a parachute mine dropped during the London Blitz.
Walters & Cohen’s design complements the row of terraced housing with a contemporary building, drawing its inspiration from the recent developments that have been added over the past decade. The school wanted parents and members of the community to feel that the building belonged to them, so a sense of openness and inclusion is provided by creating sight lines into the building while the welcoming main entrance to the nursery and pre-school is accessed straight from the pavement. Parents can see their children busily learning, building a sense of trust between the school and the community.
The school’s vision is for a holistic approach to education, and believes children should receive a full and immersive education. This includes specialist teachers for art, music and drama, and the studios on the first floor are dedicated space for children to immerse themselves in the arts. It demonstrates to our parents and the school community the value we put on a well-balanced and rounded education. - Robert Cleary, Head Teacher at Sandringham Primary School