Elm Park Primary School

This project was a new-build school for the London Borough of Havering. The design was based on the Exemplar School principle developed by Walters & Cohen and Mark Skelly in 2003, locating all the classrooms adjacent to a central heart space and roof play decks, and was developed to accommodate the specific needs of this site and school.

Paired year group classrooms share WC and cloakroom facilities, with classroom spaces opening onto a double-height shared ‘heart’. The heart is largely open plan, with a generous amphitheatre staircase which doubles as an assembly area and space for group work. The Skelly & Couch-designed acoustics of the heart are so good that three or four groups can work simultaneously without disturbing one another.

The new-build elements incorporated a number of sustainable features, including high levels of natural light, natural ventilation, excellent airtightness values, high levels of insulation, heat reclaim ventilation in serviced areas, efficient lighting and control and a simple building energy management system. All classrooms have direct access to outside, facilitating outdoor learning and enhancing the work environment.

In 2012 the school was joint winner (with Hylands Primary School) of the British Council for School Environments’ (BCSE) best new-build primary school.

The project team was procured through the Office of Government (OGC) Framework. Skelly & Couch was appointed by EC Harris LLP to provide full M&E, environmental, sustainability, acoustic and co-ordination design services. The project was procured at the same time as Towers, Hylands and Gidea Park Primary Schools (also for Havering), which were all tendered separately and amounted to a total construction value of around £20m.