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Location: Newham, London

Client: London Borough of Newham / Laing O’Rourke

Value: £11.8m

Status: Completed 2012

Eastlea Community School

As part of the London Borough of Newham’s Building Schools for the Future programme, ArchitecturePLB was appointed to redevelop Eastlea Community School in Canning Town. Our proposals involved a phased redevelopment for this occupied site, providing new and refurbished facilities to meet the current needs of the curriculum and help to establish improved security in and around the site.

One of the school’s main problems was that it was entirely open to the public, with very poorly defined boundaries. A road which bisected the site had officially been closed, yet still looked, and was used as, a public right of way. Furthermore, the main reception was located at the very centre of the site meaning that it was impossible for the school to ‘police’ visitors.

Careful planning and coordination was also required for the execution of the works, with stringent restrictions on noise and access while working on an occupied school site.

In response to these challenges, we developed a five-phase proposal to be carried out over a period of 18 months. In so doing we paid considerable attention to the sequence of construction, ‘designing-out’ disruption and minimising the need for decanting wherever possible to reduce the impact on the ongoing life of the school.

By removing the temporary accommodation from the centre of the campus we were able to create a new landscaped focus for the school, surrounded by a combination of existing, extended and new buildings. This remodeling has enabled significant improvements to the pupils’ external amenity spaces as well as new, discrete staff parking and enhanced security.

Key challenges included the significant remodelling and extension of a former Victorian Board school to provide more flexible learning spaces, including ‘break-out’ areas. Dining and art accommodation has been replaced with a new building, linking to technology and design facilities in the refurbished Victorian building.

Refurbishing and extending the existing science accommodation has improved facilities and incorporated all science laboratories into one building. A new entrance has also been created in a gap between existing 1960s buildings, to provide a secure public face and an identity and focus within the local neigbourhood. In addition to school facilities it incorporates a range of community functions including an ‘enterprise café, part-funded by Thames Gateway.