Friars School

AOC Architecture, London, 2007


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The canopy creates an external classroom  

Dominik Gigler (website)     Download Original

  • The canopy creates an external classroom     
  • The stand-alone playhouse    
  • The idea to extend the timber soffits outwards was inspired by Breuer    
  • The steel joists zig-zag playfully as they support the pink GRP and its black-and-white bargeboards    
  • View of the outdoor blackboard    
  • The children are inspired by the creative design    
  • The long low storage bunker triggers the children’s imagination    
  • Children playing indoors    
  • The architectural starting point for the structure was the idea of  a ‘heavy’ ceiling connecting internal and external teaching spaces    
  • The canopy’s free end was braced laterally using diagonal struts    
  • The sensory room – a Heidegger’s Hut for kids    
  • External view displays the crudity of the existing building    
  • The crudity of the existing building is highly evocative of its period    
  • The existing school building is founded on piles    
  • All the structures are steel frames, supplemented with timber restraint beams to stiffen disparate elements    
  • Site plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Long section    
  • Aspirations drawing    
  • Existing Ground Plan    

New-build early years unit for a primary school of 236 pupils with emphasis on self-initiated learning, role-play and the blurring of inside and outside activities

An infill extension proposal that connects the classrooms on either side of it, and creates a canopied external classroom. The extension’s roof doubles as a terrace linking two classrooms on the first floor.

The roof-line of the existing school has inspired the new canopy. Its transverse concrete mid-point structural beam, and the darkly varnished wood soffits, have been reiterated in the ceiling of the new unit’s role-play room and its roof extension.

The back wall and ceiling of the new sensory room features a ‘hanging’ house-shaped extrusion, which is actually a turn in the concrete stairs on the other side of the wall. It produces a compressed space which echoes the concrete mid-point beam in the school’s main range.

The outdoor play area is covered by an up-tilted pink glass-reinforced plastic canopy. The steel joists are rectilinear in the role-play room and its projecting roof, but zig-zag outside to support the pink canopy and its black-and-white striped bargeboards.

The final intervention is a stand-alone playhouse, painted tar-black, equipped with Lubetkin door handles and lined, like the walls of the role-play room, with pinboard.


  • Begun: May 2006
  • Completed: Apr 2007
  • Floor area: 250m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £256,241
  • Tender date: Jun 2005
  • Procurement: Single-stage competitive tender IFC 98
  • Address: Webber Street, Southwark, London, SE1 0RF, United Kingdom

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