Southwark Park Primary School

AOC, London, 2015


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View of the playground 

David Grandorge     Download Original

  • View of the playground    
  • The new windows feature yellow frames    
  • White precast concrete contrasts with the bright yellow frames of the new windows    
  • AOC replanned the site to create routes that progress through the school and link all the spaces    
  • A link block connects the infants to the juniors    
  • Inside one of the classrooms    
  • Hall interior    
  • View out to the playground    
  • Location plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Perspective section through new hall    
  • Section AA    
  • Before construction    
  • Before construction    
  • Before construction    
  • Diagram of historical demolition    
  • Diagram of key issues before and after    
  • Diagram of expansion logic    
  • Diagram showing demolished walls at start of AOC project    
  • Facade evolution    

At Southwark Park Primary School AOC has created a series of light-touch additions and simple homages to Victorian brick.

When AOC first arrived at Southwark Park Primary School in 2011, it was confronted with a jumble of structurally unsafe, but beautiful buildings. The school was in a dire state. The site sits on a mix of both made ground and alluvial bands which had shifted over time, causing the building to move. The result was a series of huge cracks displacing the masonry structure. The entire school had to be moved out to a temporary site down the road and remained there for 10 years.

When AOC’s project began, a series of initial enabling works had already been carried out as part of a previous scheme, which had stalled in 2007. This included the underpinning of some walls, new piled foundations, and the removal of large areas of internal walls. AOC had both a blank canvas, albeit within the external walls of the listed buildings, and also a tricky layout of piles to work its design around.

AOC has replanned the site, which previously provided little connection between its buildings, to create routes that progress through the school and link all the spaces. As at many Victorian schools, the halls had acted as one of the main avenues of circulation, but in modern pedagogy this arrangement can be disruptive. The issue was resolved with the addition of a new hall and conversion of existing hall spaces into corridors with linking break-out areas.

In the entrance, what was once a tight, unwelcoming space between two masonry walls has been transformed. At the beginning and end of the day the doors are thrown open and there is level access from the street right through to the playground and ground-floor classrooms, where parents drop off or pick up their children. During the school day the space becomes a break-out area where small groups can work, or staff and parents can conduct meetings.


  • Begun: 2013
  • Completed: 2015
  • Floor area: 2,500m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Procurement: Design & Build
  • Address: 383 Southwark Park Rd, London, SE16 2JH, United Kingdom

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