Crouch Hill School
London Borough of Haringey
Education, Listed Buildings & Conservation
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This unrealised competition scheme demonstrates an approach to a highly challenging brief which is both radical and sensitive to the demands of context. The project was to relocate a primary school, merging it with an existing nursery and community facility, on a site forming part of Crouch Hill Community Park. The site, which is designated as Metropolitan Open Land, is part of a three mile long linear nature park, formed from a long-closed railway line stretching from Finsbury Park to Highgate. As planning restrictions severely limited the extent to which the parkland could be disturbed, the key challenge was to integrate the educational development into this green setting.
The school is designed to sit within a new raised and gently sloping embankment, which is heavily planted so the landscape flows over the new building. The teaching spaces are revealed in cutaway sections, but views of the school are carefully screened by trees and shrubs so the parkland appears to continue uninterrupted. The design is based around a carefully constructed circulation diagram to provide separate access for the three distinct functions, whilst allowing community use of the sports facilities and maintaining existing public routes through the park. As part of the project, tp bennett proposed a landscaping scheme that extended to adjacent sections of the nature park, enhancing them with new planting and water features.
Internally, the school has a linear form, with teaching spaces to the north and more informal communal and support spaces along the southern perimeter. The entrance area is the hub of the school, linking it to the other facilities on the site. The project sought to ensure a seamless relationship between park and buildings, providing a stimulating and flexible environment for the students while protecting the biodiversity of the parkland and its wildlife habitats. It represented a remarkable reconciliation of two agendas that could have been seen as mutually exclusive.