St Elizabeth Primary School, Bethnal Green.
It was an interesting experience to visit St Elizabeth Nursery in Bethnal Green. The site is surrounded by the terrace houses and tall council buildings with narrow roads on the front and the rear sides of the site. The project was designed by architects “SCABAL “ with the active participation of the school kids who helped in making models on the site. As explained by Isabel from the practice, the project area is around 200sqm and was completed in two phases (depended on the release of funds).
Arriving in late afternoon, the buzz of the after school pickup could be seen from a distance. After entering the front gate and crossing through the open school yard and play ground, as we entered the main reception, the interesting features of the project started to speak for itself. The use of “cork” as facing material for doors and furniture not only giving it a natural warm effect but also a tactile and acoustic performance. After passing through a well light corridor, we entered the backside where faced with a small slide in a very playful and kids’ friendly landscape, and where the nursery is housed. The most striking feature of the nursery is the “ship shaped” dark pink coloured glass fibre roofcover, supported by the “tree-like” blue coloured metal columns. There are nine columns in total to support the roof and surprisingly they all are different from each other and that makes the whole design more interesting . The main timber structure of the roof is a reciprocal structure, following an interlocking system in the pattern of a grid , which gives the amazing stability to the structure both horizontally and vertically. The circumference / edges of the wooden structure is made up of the steel gutter which looks surprisingly good against the pink and blue colours.
Entering the nursery hall, one can clearly see how a well planned open space can be adapted for the multifunctional environment of a nursery. The details can be easily observed in regards to the health and safety criteria for the kids. The roof has acoustic panels with four skylights for the light and ventilation. Another important part of the design comprises of the two opposite door openings for the cross ventilation. The toilets are at the rear side with the right scale gives it a very “practical user friendly approach”. This small sized project has walls made up of clear glass and wooden panels that gives it an open and transparent feel . The use of wonderful different colours and shapes throughout the nursery definitely boosts the imagination of the magical adventurous world for the kids. In short, through the clever, cost effective design, the nursery caters a safe, clean, healthy , happy and good learning environment for the kids.
Written by Puja, year 2
Link to SCABAL website