Robin Hood Primary School
Tel: 01159 683400
The construction of Robin Hood Primary School consisted of new build construction and refurbishment works. Phase 1 was the construction of the new two storey building. During this phase, the refurbishment of the existing building was be undertaken. Phase 2 involved demolition of part of the existing school, the remainder of the refurbishment works and the completion of the outstanding external works.
Robin Hood is a primary school situated in the Bestwood Park area of Nottingham, north of the city centre. The proposals were to undertake extensive demolition of the western part of the school that was in poor condition and to build a new classroom block to house KS2, a number of whole school facilities and the entrance. The remaining sections of the school were also be refurbished. The work radically improved the educational provision for the school and created a landmark building that has became a real community provision.
The proposal centred on a strategy to condense the footprint of the building and create a more efficient design that responded to the transformational brief and brought the school up to modern teaching and learning standards. The demolition of the classroom accommodation in the former junior school immediately removed the poorest area of the school. Re-providing this in a new two storey building to the rear of the school had two very clear objectives; to minimise decant (existing accommodation was used during construction) and to provide a more efficient plan form in terms of area and bringing together the school.
The new build block also provides the new main entrance into the school with associated administration/heads room. An arts/science project studio is also provided at the upper level located above the main entrance that forms a key feature of the design. With the building projection at this point, the feature is used as a lid over the entrance. The adjacent roof space is used as an external learning area for the studio and upper class base, so educational spaces are clearly visible on the approach to the building; a clear beacon of the transformational change at the school.
The shape of the new building responds to the existing arrangement of the buildings on the site, its physical form designed to wrap around the furthest year 2 block and the former junior building to unify the school. The new approach from the southern boundary approaches perpendicular to the existing building, the form responds to this as the classrooms and upper studio space are on this axis. The existing plant room tower immediately west of the main entrance was of poor quality and the new design wraps around the building at the lower level creating a colonnade link to the existing hall and a new frontage to the proposed outdoor dining/entrance piazza in this location. Once inside the building the form splits and the eastern classrooms are angled to point toward the KS1 parts of the existing building. This both directs movement and views toward the new heart of the school which is an external gathering place framed on the west by the new classroom blocks and to the east and south by the existing PE hall and foundation unit. Views into this external space are critical from the main entrance to give a feeling of real connection with the landscape. The shallow plan of the entrance lobby and opening up straight away into an external learning area creates openness and visibility deep into the school site. A simplified plan arrangement that can be easily understood by the users and visitors to the school is a step change from the previous arrangement.
The large entrance lobby gives the opportunity for the school to operate a 'one school' drop off point. From the lobby there is a direct internal route to the four bases. The central gathering heart space is a wonderful opportunity for social interaction of the families of the school and gives space for the drop off arrangement to be a real event.
Drop off and pick up is possible directly into the foundation unit from the entrance piazza for security during the school day. External drop off into the KS1 hub space is also possible via the KS1 play.
Generally, the remainder of the school was refreshed and refurbished where necessary, to deliver the new educational vision. Areas of KS1 were remodelled to create an improved hub space. A zone to the rear of the PE hall was refurbished to create improved circulation into the hub area, that can in itself be used for break out of teaching and learning. The lower level accommodation to the west of the PE hall was cleared of its internal partitions to open the space up into an area for informal dining and learning. Opportunities to break through the external wall into the new gathering heart space create a new feel to this area of the school and enable better connection to KS1. At the connection of KS1 and the Foundation unit the previous door was blocked off, to facilitate the remodelling of the knuckle into a new staff room facility and to replace the previous facility that was demolished.
To strengthen the connection to the new built facility and to foster sharing by the whole school, a physical connection in the form of a linking bridge was created at the upper level. The access onto the bridge is located on the fourth open side of the gathering heart space; easily accessible by all. A stair at this location provides access up to a timber platform for shared outdoor learning; the 'tree house'. From this nodal point, the bridge link is picked up that is to be built as an extension to the upper floor, in a similar tree house style- possibly a timber deck structure. On this platform, further outdoor learning areas have been provided for the upper class base and a whole school shared learning area associated with the messy arts/science studio also accessed via the link bridge. This is a defining feature of the design and captures the spirit of the brief and the educational vision right within the heart of the scheme.
From the main entrance area, a separate route for the school has been created for access to the west block of the building that compromises the performance/dining hall, kitchens and the former entrance and admin areas that are intended to be maintained for whole school 'multi-use' and for a community/adult education extended facility. Hot food dining will still take place as it does currently in the performance hall (KS1 and the foundation stages may continue to be served in the former PE hall via the use of mobile serveries this will be developed at the next stage). A colonnade links into the performance hall at the higher stage level. A ramp access has been installed down from the stage to create a DDA compliant space. As the block to the south of the gable has been demolished, the southern elevation of the hall has been replaced with a façade that will maximise opportunities for views and connection to the south.
Externally, works proposals were focussed around creation of an improved vehicle access onto the site, a new car park and a perimeter boundary fence- all essential design drivers in the improvements on the site. The landscape masterplan involved a more holistic approach to the long term development of the school site. Bite size pieces have been delivered to facilitate the new educational vision, with the rest delivered on a rolling basis by the school through devolved capitol and future funding opportunities. As well as the key design drivers mentioned above, the following proposals were delivered as part of this programme of works;