Ark Putney Academy

Hawkins\Brown, London, 2015


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Windows are openable with good light transmission 

Tim Crocker     Download Original

  • Windows are openable with good light transmission    
  • Steni rainscreen cladding    
  • The original 1950s structure is eye-catching    
  • The art studios feature a wavy roof    
  • Historical featues such as stairwells have been sympathetically treated    
  • The new gym, built as a replacement for the original sports halls    
  • Cantilevered staircases with hardwood timber screens    
  • The updated colour palette was inspired by those found within the building     
  • The art studios     
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Typical floor plan    
  • Key principles proposal for replacement curtain walling    
  • Detail through sports hall facade    
  • Sports hall louvre detail plan    

Hawkins\Brown was appointed by Wandsworth Council to work with Lend Lease to redevelop the former Elliott School into a new academy that would meet the requirements of 21st century teaching. 

Hawkins\Brown collaborated closely with Wandsworth, Ark Schools and Lend Lease to develop a proposal which balanced the desire to retain as much of the original, while ensuring that the reimagined building met the teaching needs of a new academy.

The school comprises three blocks: a main teaching block, gymnasium and assembly hall, which are all structurally different and independent. The structure of the classroom block consists of four lines of circular columns carrying transverse main beams that taper and longitudinal secondary beams supporting the reinforced concrete floor slabs. Concrete upstands around the perimeter support the external glazing. Hawkins\Brown’s internal reconfiguration of the main teaching block – which includes a ground-floor dining area – illustrates the flexibility of the existing reinforced concrete structure.

The new sports hall is a steel frame building with an infill steel frame system, which supports both the external Steni rainscreen cladding and the internal birch-faced plywood lining. The hall is naturally ventilated through a zone of hit-and-miss brickwork at the east and west elevations. This air path is attenuated through the use of motorised dampers.  These sit within the metal framing zone and are accessed internally by removing plywood panels.

Both of the main curtain wall elevations were replaced with a modern thermally broken double-glazed system. This retained the original rigorous configuration while offering vast improvements to thermal and solar control of the building. The internal layout has been rationalised to modern teaching standards, improving the accessibility and people flow. The fire and acoustic performance has been similarly improved.

The existing staircase enclosures are glass-walled and the lightweight flights are free of main and side walls, being anchored directly onto cantilevers projecting from the main slabs, which creates a sense of openness and light. The previous gymnasium and workshops (which ultimately needed to be demolished) consisted of deep, pre-stressed main beams that were originally jacked into position. The main assembly hall, shaped like a 1950s caravan, consists of seven exposed concrete portal frames. 


  • Begun: Aug 2013
  • Completed: Sep 2015
  • Floor area: 10,653m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £19M
  • Procurement: Bespoke Design & Build
  • CO2 Emissions: 14.3kg/m2/year
  • Address: Pullman Gardens, London, SW15 3DG, United Kingdom

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