Colston's Primary School

Childs+Sulzmann Architects were appointed to design a primary school on an annexed site to add much needed capacity to the existing school. The brief demanded 6 new classrooms, a new multi-purpose hall, a commercial kitchen on a steeply sloping site in a conservation area.

The site was hardly large enough to accommodate the requirements and surrounded by a sensitive residential area, with trees to one side and a church on another. Our design needed to accommodate the rigorous space requirements, facilities, cost and environmental considerations that are specified for school buildings, which is challenging even on an easy site.

The solution was a split-level school which uses the slope to allow all the classrooms to open directly to outside space on the two-tiered site. The upper tier provides a nature garden and boardwalk. The larger lower tier incorporates areas of grass, water, sand, planting and the feel of a forest floor, with opportunities for climbing, tunnelling and den building.

The result is a building which responds to its very particular environment, with internal spaces in which children can creatively develop in their first two years at school and outdoor spaces that will provide unique learning through play.