St Silas Primary School
Blackburn & Darwen Borough Council
The project consists of a three-storey Primary School built on a tight sloping site surrounded by terraced housing.
To provide all classrooms with direct access to external play space, the practice utilised the area’s topography, resulting in a three storey solution totalling 2,200m² which is layered over and pushed into the site and terraced to maximise the external area with rooftop play spaces.
The school comprises four linked blocks wrapping around a secure play courtyard: a single storey block with a rooftop play deck linked to the ground with a tube slide; two three-storey blocks linked by a bridge of class spaces of which the upper floor houses a mini-football pitch; and a main hall block with staff accommodation on top disguising plant areas. The practice designed the scheme in just eight weeks during the summer of 2010; it was opened in April 2012 - just 22 months after initial client and user consultations.
The design allows for over 800m² of useable play space off the ground level, 400m² more than was provided for the previous Victorian school on the site.
Effects of light and colour are used throughout, with locally sourced, coloured perspex step in-fills flooding dining areas with a rainbow of light. The ‘wrapping’ elevation cladding system is a series of coloured, translucent and solid perspex fins designed to create a cost effective rapid solution.
The project received an RIBA national award in 2013