Camden School for Girls, Main Building

Secondary Education Building
Location: Camden, London
Construction Cost: £1 million
Completion: 2019

We have remodelled and extended Camden School for Girls‘ Main Building as part of a total of two building projects that we have recently realised in its campus.

Camden School for Girls was founded for the education of girls in 1871 by Frances Mary Buss, one of the great pioneers of women’s education. The School promotes an ethos of excellence and creativity. Our architectural approach tries to match this ethos.

Two new school environments have been created, each one with a distinct architectural character. Both are built economically and sympathetically to their different immediate contexts while improving the School’s urban identity and overall experience.

 

 

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 architecture is contemporary but conscious of the contradictions inherent in the existing building, addressing both its original Victorian section and the concrete 1950s block that replaced its bombed site.

Special attention has been given to the volume and profile of the entrance building and to the whole ‘street landscape’ that penetrates it to allow movement flowing through the heart of the school.

 

 

 

 

Our design improves a number of difficult transitions between new and old, making the most central and busiest part of the School spacious, welcoming and airy.

Excellent daylight floods the interior on all levels while the new openings provide a variety of visual links between the different parts of the building.

 

 

 

Through a well-considered integration of building and landscape, we have offered a variety of new indoor-outdoor experiences while resolving complex operational and security requirements for the School. A new stepped landscape eases circulation whilst it increases the campus’ seating capacity and opportunities for planting.

 

 

 

Our exploration of the grid typology of the existing concrete frame building is partly associated with Sol LeWitt’s screenprint series of drawings that use four directions of  vertical, horizontal, diagonal right to left and diagonal left to right lines (1971) and, in parallel, with James Stirling’s prefabricated concrete panels for Andrew Melville Halls (1967).

These works have influenced our research into the advantages of modular screen facades and the creation of a bespoke GRC envelope that features diagonal pleats playing against the grid of the existing building.

 

 

 

 

Our second intervention extends the Sixth Form Building facing Camden Road to provide a new common room, classroom and study area.