Camden School for Girls

Location: Camden, London
Construction cost: £1,4 million
Status: Planning

We have been commissioned to design two two-story building extensions for Camden School for Girls. Camden was founded as a school for girls in 1871 by Frances Mary Buss, one of the great pioneers of women’s education. The school promotes progressive education and has an ethos of excellence. Our design tries to address the reputation of the school in a campus that has little spatial coherence with several buildings built at different periods and in contrasting character.

Following the appropriation of land after the school was bombed during the war, the campus has been developed in a piece meal manner to satisfy immediate needs. In developing the project brief, primarily with regard to the Main Building, we have considered how the site and operation of the school can improve strategically in the long term. A high quality design has been developed with an architectural character that is sympathetic to the existing school buildings and the surrounding area as well as to potential future strategies that might aim to improve the campus as a whole.

The first intervention extends the Main Building to develop a new entrance and foyer area, a larger dinning hall and a more spacious staff area. The design is contemporary but conscious of its adjacent buildings: the existing concrete 1950s building and the original brick Victorian building. The second intervention extends the 6th Form Building, facing Camden Road. It creates a study area and common room space on the ground floor and classroom areas on the first floor. Both extensions improve their associated landscapes.

Special attention has been given to the entrance landscape which penetrates the extension of the Main Building to allow movement through the heart of the school. Long stepped seating gives the dining hall a much-needed external space while a sunken courtyard expands the main foyer to the exterior. This intersection between building and landscape creates a variety of architectural qualities while resolving complex operational and security requirements. A number of difficult spatial conditions between new and old buildings have been addressed by adopting appropriate environmental and material strategies.