Building Study: Grange Primary School, London, by Maccreanor Lavington


A tired Victorian primary school is given a new public face and facilities without compromising its original character or surroundings


As the new block is mostly single-storey, it does not block views of the main Victorian building

For all the good it undoubtedly did, one of the more unfortunate legacies of the quashed Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme was its tendency to view design quality as a direct consequence of building cost. This has led to a generation of lavishly and conspicuously reconfigured school buildings where the primary focus appears to have been on big and brash new architecture – rather than an empathetic design response attuned to the needs, character, culture and fabric of the particular school building and its site. 

While the subsequent drive for standardisation as evident in the successor Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP) has certainly removed the emphasis on extravagant cost, it does not necessarily prioritise high-quality architecture either. 

Which is why it is so refreshing to come across a new school that eschews both the brash exhibitionism of BSF and the dour regimentation of PSBP to devise an inspiring design solution, based on a number of modest yet highly effective design interventions. The result is a thoroughly rejuvenated school campus that applies a contemporary new face to a formerly tired and inefficient school building.

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