The Centre for Creative Learning at Francis Holland School, has been announced as an RIBA national award winner, on a list of the best buildings built in the UK over the last two years.
Nestled on a tight urban site, and bounded by back gardens and the underground, the new building replaces a barren courtyard with a lush roof garden sitting on top of a modest library. It knits together various parts of the school as a transient space while creating a destination in itself, much loved by staff and students.
Driven by the school’s ambition to provide first-rate wellbeing and creative facilities and the need to unlock other parts of this tight site, the project is part of a wider masterplan to best utilise every space in this 140 year old school. The resulting building is a poetic response to the very real challenges of resolving the many demands of both circulation and size.
Project architect, Robyn Poulson, said: “It was our aim to create a space that would inspire the pupils. After they have selected their favourite book they can imagine they are Alice, sitting beneath a giant toadstool plucked from the pages of Alice in Wonderland. It was a pleasure to work with the school to create something truly functional, beautiful and creative. It really is a magical place and we are so happy that RIBA has awarded it this national prize.”
The judges described the project as "a complex brief on a challenging site, executed with love and care to create something enduring and special. The result is both unpretentious and rich. A careful palette of materials is brought together in sumptuous detail to realise a clear poetic concept with admirable success.”