Eleanor Palmer Science Lab

Type: Primary School Science and Technology Lab
Location: Camden, London
Project cost: 330K
Status: Completion expected in April 2018

The new Science and Technology Lab building for Eleanor Palmer Primary School aims ‘to foster enquiring minds, curiosity and wonder in the world’. It will be used by the school and as a shared resource by the neighbouring community and other schools in London.

AY Architects have worked closely with teachers, staff, parents, governors and pupils, making up the ‘Lab RATS’ advisory group, who have met us regularly since the conception of the project, providing important input in developing the design.




The new building will replace an existing Victorian shelter, currently very little used by the school. The brief is to create a flexible classroom space for 31 children aged 3-11 years to support a primary school teaching programme for science and technology. In addition, the Lab should be flexible to be used for after school clubs and cooking groups.




The design considers key subjects of the curriculum: ‘Processes and Forces’, ‘Materials’ and ‘Living Things’ to create a place of discovery that engages with the physical environment: light, sky, structure, materials and mechanical systems. The building is a timber construction, seen as an instrument for learning that may engage children with technology through its own architecture: children should be able to read it and analyse its parts.




Integrated within the roof volume are two triangular volumes that extend 1.5m higher than the main roof level to create ideal natural daylight conditions, extra space for hanging devices for science experiments, and a high level air extraction zone as part of our strategy for heating and ventilation.





The building is set back from the Victorian boundary brick wall along Fortess Road. The geometry of the two tapering flat roof volumes breaks up the upper roof line, reducing the massing and visible impact of the building on the street while adding to its architectural character. A display window penetrates the boundary brick wall centrally between two piers. The window acts as a sign for the Lab, providing new visual connections between the school and the street.

The interior of the Lab is designed as an apothecary with display and storage areas, curiosity-cabinets, a series of sinks and worktops, a fitted area for cooking and a dark/sound room. The east elevation of the building, facing the main playground, incorporates a ray of vitrines with jars of seeds and plants and has benches on its exterior. The north elevation extends to a science garden that is designed to facilitate specialised outdoor learning with anamorphic play equipment and pedal powered energy generating devices.