Sensory Classroom | Downton Primary School

Footprint Architects have repeat school success in their second addition to the Victorian Grade 2 listed school building, the new translucent inside outside space is designed as a sensory classroom environment that enables free flow for foundation level children.
The school were keen that the new space allowed them to enlarge by 15 additional pupils and enable children to have direct access to the play space whilst enhancing visibility and supervision for teachers.
The difficultly Footprint overcame was the planning constraint to protect the listed building which was in conflict with the education requirement to form an opening through the facade. Having previously established a good working relationship with the planning and conservation officer the practice was able to overcome the challenging planning issues with a design response that was sympathetic to its context. The new extension juxtaposes the geometry of the historic building whilst respecting the structural bays and fenestration of its facade.
The success of the design is the play of the listed facade against a modern insertion that provides an uplifting series of spaces capturing the essence of learning and playing in the world of a 5 year old. This transitional space between the classrooms and the outside play area provides areas for reading, wet play, sand, soft play and unrestricted free flow to the outdoor play areas.
The polycarbonate cladding floods the internal space with daylight and links the internal space with the external environment. Internally the space is conceived as a child’s toy box, with the new structure clad in birch plywood whilst the listed building remains visible and integral to the design concept.

Chair of Governors, Richard Fishlock said:
“We needed an innovative solution that made the best of a restricted site and was sympathetic to the existing Victorian architecture, and once again Footprint Architects rose to the challenge by greatly improving the existing learning spaces and adding a unique new indoor/outdoor classroom – it’s an inspiring blend of old and new architecture.”