Great Whelnetham CEVC Primary School

The Overview

Gt Whelnetham CofE Primary School serves the villages of Gt Whelnetham, Sicklesmere, Stanningfield and Nowton. It is located in the centre of the village and lies immediately adjacent to St Thomas a Becket Church, to which it enjoys strong ties.

There has been a school in Gt Whelnetham on the same site since 1849. The original building has now been transformed into a Childcare Centre, but previously it was utilised as the small Hall associated with the main school.

For and on behalf of Suffolk County Council, the brief called for the design of a new purpose built Hall, Servery Kitchen, Stores, Head Teachers Office, Entrance Foyer and extended ICT Classroom. Externally, parking and approach entrance and arrival had to be improved.

The Challenge

The existing School was flat roofed and lacked any sense of arrival. Furthermore, it was concealed by the original school building which fronted the main road.

As the Architect, we evaluated a number of sketch options for the site, some traditional, some contemporary - but all mindful of the tight budget. A contemporary solution was chosen by the school.

The Solution

A simple idea - a shallow pitched roof with a section of the roof extruded to form a tall clerestory window to act as a beacon in the landscape, and act as a landmark for those approaching the school. The volume, clad in white render and cedar boarding, gives the school a vertical emphasis to what was otherwise a low rise / uninteresting building. A canopy is added over the new main entrance to draw visitors in. Finally super-graphics were added to announce the school.