Timber design welcomes pupils back to school dinners

Timber interior of school refectory

As lockdown easing begins across England and children in full-time education head back into class, pupils at Ibstock Place School, Roehampton, will get to enjoy their social-distanced lunchtimes in a stunning new naturally-ventilated timber design refectory space.

The project has been designed by Maccreanor Lavington architects, based in London and Rotterdam, who were appointed after winning a competition to design the new wing at the independent co-educational day school for pupils aged 4 to 18 years, located in south-west London.

The new building has been carefully crafted to sit harmoniously at the heart of the school campus and will provide a high quality, enjoyable dining environment with abundant natural light and garden views.

The generous floor space increases capacity and supports a diverse multi-use programme. The building accommodates a full commercial kitchen with specialist pastry room and hospitality annexe.

A soft stock brick and plain clay tiles have been chosen to reflect the adjoining landscape and buildings; they are materials which will weather well and age gracefully, supporting a timeless longevity to the building.

The intricate timber roof structure provides both a sense of intimacy and grandeur. Rising to three glazed lanterns, the roof volume supports a simple natural ventilation strategy and defines the uses below.

Describing the design, Project Associate at Maccreanor Lavington, Tom Waddicor, said:

“This significant new building has been carefully crafted to embrace and enhance its beautiful landscape setting. A cloister offers a calm, collegiate quality to the building’s approach. Inside, an intricate lattice timber structure rises to three glazed lanterns lending a befitting grandeur to the refectory — the communal heart of the school.”

The refectory design recognises the importance of lunchtimes in supporting the emotional and social development of pupils whilst also being uplifting and celebratory. The brief was to create a calm, quiet and enjoyable space — allowing hundreds of pupils to dine simultaneously, whilst being able to have a conversation with those immediately next to them.

The building makes abundant use of timber. The striking glued laminated (glulam) lattice structure of the vaulted ceilings frame inset panels of oak, designed to incorporate acoustic absorption to soften the background clatter of dining. The sparse palette of timber is accented by flourishes of bronze — handrails, door handles and light fittings — which lend a permanence and tactile richness to the building.

The form of the building is designed to moderate the internal environment without air conditioning. The cloister to the west elevation acts as a practical rain cover for pupils queuing for lunch and additionally shades the interiors from afternoon sun, preventing summertime overheating. The roof lanterns form a chimney to draw hot, stale air out of the building through high level louvre windows and allow natural light to flood the spaces below.


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