Marlborough Primary School

Macgregor Smith: Situated in the bustling Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Marlborough Primary School provides a vibrant learning environment for primary school children aged 3 to 11. The new school provides increased capacity for 420 students, plus a full-time nursery and specialist autism centre.

Provision of generous external spaces and good daylighting was key to this scheme. The constraints posed by a 5-storey party wall to the west and very limited ground floor area on this tight urban site resulted in a tiered section of cascading ‘garden’ terraces that provide a rich diversity of external spaces, accessed directly from each classroom through large sliding doors. This solution enabled a fantastic doubling of the provision of external space compared to the previous land-hungry school building. The south facing external learning spaces follow the pedagogical progression up through the school, with the youngest students spilling out onto ground floor level spaces and the oldest year groups at the top roof terrace levels.

The external learning terraces bring about the benefits of nature and green space despite the city centre location and framed views capitalise on the great look outs over London’s skyline. Extensive dialogue with the School and RBKC meant that we were able to understand what the teachers and children wanted from their new spaces and we held a series of workshops testing the designs for the spaces as the project evolved.

At ground floor level, a bamboo ‘forest’ and performance stage carve out spaces for outdoor classrooms and opportunities for creative play. As children move up through then school, raised planters brimming with Lavender and trained fruit trees are used for the school’s ‘Growing Club’ and vegetable planters, a compost wormery, insect hotels and a greenhouse all seek to enhance the learning opportunities these outdoor spaces provide. Every ounce of space has been utilised and at the highest roof level, there is a biodiversity roof, PVs and a full size Multi Use Games Area.


Project Details

Project: Marlborough Primary School
Location: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, UK
Client: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Landscape Architect: Macgregor Smith
Design Team: Dixon Jones Architects, Waterman Group (Structures), ARUP (M&E)
Street Furniture: Woodscape, Sui Generis
Landscape Contractor: Kingston Landscape Group
Nurseries: Bruns Trees, Robin Tacchi Plants

Design year: 2015-17
Year Built: 2017
Opened: September 2017

2018 RIBA London Award
2018 RIBA National Award
2018 BCI Award Social Infrastructure Project of the Year
2018 New London Architecture Awards – Education Category – Commendation
2018 World Architecture News Award – Education Category – Shortlisted
2018 Architect’s Journal – School Project of the Year – Shortlisted

Photography: Paul Riddle

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