Hounslow Sure Start Centre

Cottrell and Vermeulen Architecture, Hounslow, 2004


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The 'big top' roof reaches out to shield play decks, with play gardens beyond 

Peter Grant     Download Original

  • The     
  • Spaces collected under the roof    
  • From the babies    
  • Year-round beach courtyard, helping to light the depth of the plan    
  • Open-sized play deck to east of school (stair provides access to plant)    
  • Floor plan    
  • Section A-A    
  • Sections    
  • Elevation from Grange Road    
  • Model    
  • Labelled section    
  • Section detail    

Nursery school in Hounslow identifiable by its ‘big top’ roof that shelters classrooms, courtyards and outdoor play areas

The main focus of the design is the sheltering roof, which has a symbolic role as well as the pragmatic one of providing a covered play spaces. The encompassing tent expresses the developing role of nurseries in taking an inclusive approach to the early years of family life

The concept started as a small tented city, each unit close to nature. This developed into a more buildable collection of spaces under one big top – effectively a rainscreen roof of polycarbonate on a steel frame. Other usual roof functions of providing ceilings, thermal and acoustic insulation, services routing, are located in the tops of the classroom volumes below.

There are generous sheltered outdoor play decks immediately on the north side for each of the main children’s spaces, and within the plan are more play decks to the east and an internal ‘beach’ courtyard – a sand-filled room rather than a sand pit.


  • Begun: Aug 2003
  • Completed: Jun 2004
  • Floor area: 726m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £1.3M
  • Tender date: Jul 2003
  • Procurement: JCT Intermediate Form 1998
  • Address: 103 Salisbury Road, Hounslow, TW4 7NW, United Kingdom

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