Outdoor Classroom, Heronsgate Primary School

Burd Haward Architects, London, 2009


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A wide entrance and an acrylic rooflight fill the interior space with natural light 

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  • A wide entrance and an acrylic rooflight fill the interior space with natural light    
  • The outdoor classroom has seating for up to 120 children    
  • Outdoor classroom, Heronsgate Primary School    
  • Interior with kids, with acrylic skylight above illuminating space    
  • Close-up of the timber rib beams connected to the timber benches    
  • Kids engaging with the space    
  • Exterior view of the timber rib structure and the polyester covering    
  • View of acrylic skylight    
  • 3D image showing primary structure with fabric removed    
  • Development model    
  • Detail section showing structural build-up and components    
  • Detail section showing structural build-up and components    
  • Footing detail    

A prototype external teaching space, with seating for 120 children

The structure, comprising of laminated sheets of veneer lumber supporting benches, worktops and a tensioned fabric roof, was made off-site. It was designed to be an easily assembled kit, comprising shaped CNC-cut Kerto-Q timber ribs and benches, a translucent water-resistant polyester covering and an acrylic skylight.

The fabric covering was designed as a series of separate segments, with four different types spanning between the ribs in order to simplify installation and the replacement of damaged panels. These segments were fixed along the edge of each rib and tensioned at each base by turnbunkles. Purpose-made galvanised steel plates and a clear acrylic skylight completed the kit parts.

All elements were delivered to site prefinished and constructed over three days.

The brief was to create an economic, bespoke outdoor classroom that would build on designs made by the children during an earlier collaboration and accommodate 30 children with built in benches and desks.


  • Completed: Sep 2009
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £23,500
  • Funding: Private
  • Procurement: PFI
  • Address: 98 Whinchat Road, London, SE28 0DW, United Kingdom

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