Nursery had been located in the basement of west London tower before the 2017 tragedy

Perkins & Will have completed the new home of a nursery which had been located in the basement of Grenfell tower before the building’s 2017 fire.

The practice was appointed by Kensington and Chelsea council in 2018 to find a suitable permanent home for the nursery, which had served the local community for nearly 30 years.

After extensive community engagement, including feedback from parents, guardians and nursery staff, the practice chose the neighbouring Ilys Booker Centre, where the nursery has been temporarily relocated in 2018.

The new nursery is a part-refurbished, part-newbuild scheme that includes two single-storey extensions. It is situated in a complex plot between two of Lancaster West’s existing housing blocks. 

The nursery, which offers specialist care services for children aged between 12 months and four years old, can accommodate 32 children across a range of nature-themed outdoor and indoor teaching spaces.

Perkins & Will principal Rafael Marks said allowing children to connect with nature through open spaces was a priority for the project.

A woodland themed walkway entrance leads into a main courtyard, which doubles as an outdoor classroom and play area. An additional external classroom and an external space on the new second storey provides spaces for children to wander between trees, explore a wildflower meadow and learn about insects, animals, and other wildlife. 

The outdoors is brought into the building through wildlife themed design moments, such as insect and flower etchings on the windows that cast playful shadows into the interior spaces. 

“While we cannot forget the tragic events that took place at Grenfell Tower, we hope that the new nursery will go towards restoring a sense of stability for a healing community, not just for current residents but its future generations,” Marks said.

Dee Dainton, management committee member for Grenfell Early Years Nursery, said the opening of the nursery was an occasion of “mixed emotions”. 

“The wonderful, up-to-date, environmentally friendly building offers additional space to meet parents’ childcare needs – but we will not forget the well-loved and remembered children and members of this community who lost their lives in the Grenfell tragedy,” she said.

“We hope this building will be a worthy tribute to them.”