School as community

Expansion from 1FE to 2FE of St Paul with St Luke’s CE Primary School, Bow Common, London

On occupied school sites, the new school building tends to be built where the old one isn’t and the old one once demolished becomes the site of the playground. This Mad-Hatter’s tea party seldom allows the ideal placing of the school building in relation to its surviving context, roads, orientation, view, overlooking etc.

Thus the long life of the school can be compromised by the temporary requirements of a few years building.

And besides, school buildings, gardens and playgrounds are only used for part of the day and part of the year otherwise lying empty behind high fences.

But a school should not only be a part of its community but be the community itself. This new school pools the shared concerns of the neighbourhood and its obvious lacks, inadequate housing provision, poor streetscapes and a run-down school, too small for local provision. By doing so it makes a grand project as iconic tower marking and celebrating this common neighbourhood goal. The tower pays for the school, a new neighbourhood park, a revived listed church and the last pieces in the masterplan puzzle. The higher the tower the greater its benign influence on the ground beneath it.

Service: Architects

Location: London, Bow Common

Client: London Diocesan Board for Schools, London Borough of Tower Hamlets and St Paul with St Luke’s CE Primary School

Cost: £8m

Areas: New 2FE Primary School of approx. 2,500m2, new nursery, landscape, playgrounds and canopies, integrated wedding venue, refurbished Grade 11 listed modernist church, parklet and transformed neighbourhood.

Dates: Extended feasibility Study Nov 2013

Contract: TBC

Energy: BREEAM Excellent target

To Live In   To Learn In   To Work In   To Play In