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Clapham Manor Primary School by dRMM

London architects de Rijke Marsh Morgan have completed an extension to a primary school in south London.


The facade of the new building for Clapham Manor Primary School is inspired by post war system-built schools, with the usual regular grid of the curtain wall replaced by a brightly-coloured irregular pattern.


The colour scheme of the solid, clear and fritted panels shifts around the building, from warm colours to cool and back again, and hides the floor heights of the four-storey extension.


Some of the glass panels in the facade are upholstered on the inside so that childrens' work can be displayed on them.


The new structure is joined to the old building by a triple-height transparent atrium that forms a new entrance to the school.


See our recent story about our top ten most popular posts about schools.


All drawings © dRMM. Photos are by Jonas Lencer unless otherwise stated. Here's some more information from DRMM:


Clapham Manor Primary School, London, UK

dRMM’s vibrant intervention into a Victorian Board School, completed July 2009: this polychromatic extension inserted into a tight urban context offers the school a new identity, much-needed learning spaces and an organisational hub, while maximising play space.


Clapham Manor Primary School had become a victim of its own success, having grown from a one- to two-form entry, placing considerable pressure on successful delivery of curriculum within the restrictions of the original building.


Yet despite the physical constraints, the school has excelled.


dRMM was asked to consider the provision of additional learning spaces within the site that would support both learning and play. As a masterplan to restructure the school was developed, it became apparent that the school was successful because everything was ‘under one roof’. The new wing was therefore conceived as a freestanding addition that plugged into the Victorian Board School, allowing the school to work efficiently and holistically as a single entity.


The first move: to locate the wing within what was the most constrained, under-utilised portion of the site - a former caretakers’ house and awkward 60’s extension. The new intervention is pulled away from the flank wall to sit parallel with the neighbouring Grade II Listed Odd Fellows Hall. The resultant interstitial space establishes a formal entrance into the school, improving security by acting as an organisational hub for access to the entire premises. This new entrance from pedestrian Stonhouse Street provides safer access for children and the local community also benefit from improved passive surveillance along the street. Pupils enter a triple height transparent atrium that separates new and old. A glazed lift and stairs that scissor overhead reconcile 4 contemporary storeys within the height of 3 Victorian.


The architectural aspiration was to create a building that would sit shoulder to shoulder with the two great brick exemplars but not be subservient. The Conservation Office was supportive of a contemporary intervention provided it was of the highest standard.

DRMM Clapham Manor Primary School 9

The façade is inspired by post war system-built schools, which utilised the benefits of curtain walling to create bright and airy teaching spaces. The formal grid that typically defines curtain walling is replaced by a random grid to provide an expression appropriate for a primary school, both inside and out.

DRMM Clapham Manor Primary School 8

Compositionally it would be difficult to reconcile the difference between the window and sill heights of the two existing buildings, so avoiding a compositional dialog allows the building to create its own expression.


Above photo is by Alex de Rijke

The building appears without scale as the façade conceals clues to storey heights - it is contextualised through colour rather than composition. The façade is a polychromatic loop of colour that shifts as it moves around the building.

DRMM Clapham Manor Primary School 1

The contextual colours of the Board School and the Odd Fellows Hall inform the rich reds and yellows along Stonhouse Street. The colour spectrum shifts into greens along the north elevation as the building emerges on the playground side echoing the soft landscaping below, and finally into vibrant sky blues before returning into the gap between the two buildings.


Above photo is by Philip Marsh

In addition to new classrooms, pupils benefit from spaces for performance/dance, music practice, breakout learning, informal/ social and a medical room.

DRMM Clapham Manor Primary School 3

Staff share a resource room, copy facilities, administration, and there are offices for the head teacher and facilities and premises manager.

DRMM Clapham Manor Primary School 6

Acoustics, ventilation, and light levels have all been designed to optimise learning and to complement the range of spaces offered by the Board School. The informal, social spaces that connect the classrooms are vibrant and stimulating, eliminating corridors and offering visual transparency. Soft play and informal spaces for quiet reading and conversation are situated around the new extension, as well as secure cycle storage.


The facade works doubly hard to define not only the exterior but also the interior. The vibrant coloured glass panels of the exterior are upholstered on the inside allowing opportunities for the display and presentation of pupils’ work. The dynamic quality of the triple aspect classrooms is further heightened by the composition of the views. Solid, fritted and clear panels at varying heights create amazing compositions of the urban landscape whilst being inclusive of all ages.


Architect: dRMM: Philip Marsh, Satoshi Isono, Michael Spooner, Mirko Immendoefer, Junko
Yanagisawa, Jonas Lencer, Russ Edwards
Client: London Borough of Lambeth
Project Manager: Sprunt
Structural Engineer: Michael Hadi Associates
QS and CDM Coordinator: Appleyard & Trew
Environmental Engineer: Fulcrum Consulting
Acoustic: Fleming & Barron
Main Contractors: The Construction Partnership


Project name: Clapham Manor Primary School
Location: London, UK

Architect: dRMM -
Client: London Borough of Lambeth


Project Manager: Sprunt
Structural Engineer: Michael Hadi Associates
QS and CDM Coordinator: Appleyard & Trew
Environmental Engineer: Fulcrum Consulting
Acoustic: Fleming & Barron
Main Contractor: The Construction Partnership

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