Clapham Manor Children's Centre

Matter Architecture, London, 2018


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The Children’s Centre is one of several early years’ facilities managed by Clapham Manor Primary School.

The school is a strong patron of good design, having previously commissioned a Stirling-Prize shortlisted new wing by dRMM.

Matter drew up a masterplan for the future expansion of the Children’s Centre to broaden its offer and connect better with the neighbouring health centre and play facilities.

We supported the school in their successful bid for government funding for the first phase: an expansion of accommodation to provide additional places.

The school are firm believers in the natural environment as an educational resource and the brief was for the expansion to form a better relationship between the building and the outdoors, while providing simple, adaptable internal spaces.

The centre is embedded within a housing estate, which is independently managed but with services passing through the centre’s demise.

The project makes structural alterations to the existing, allowing the space to expand outwards from under the flats above.

Where the new structure meets the old, natural daylighting is provided from above, creating a dynamic and varied environment that supports developmental play. Planning required materials sympathetic to the existing, so an alternating pattern of London stock and engineering bricks was chosen, adding playfulness.

Carefully detailed metal eaves oversail the brickwork to form a cloister, providing sheltered playspace, with a green roof above. Cedar slats differentiate the new and existing, providing warmth and varied colour, continuing as a lining to the roof and seating of the cloister.The unpredictable nature of the existing structure and services made this a complex small project.

Throughout, materials are chosen to be sturdy and cost-effective. The final ‘layer’ of finishes, planting and furniture are gradually being added by the client as they inhabit the space.


  • Begun: Oct 2017
  • Completed: Aug 2018
  • Floor area: 72m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £237,071
  • Funding: DfE Early Years Capital Fund, with additional funding from the school
  • Tender date: Aug 2017
  • Procurement: JCT ICD 2016 with Contractor's Design (M&E portion)
  • Address: Clapham Manor Children's Centre, 16 Belmont Close, London, SW4 6AT, United Kingdom

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