Thornhill Library

Jan Kattein Architects, London, 2020



Photography by Jan Kattein Architects     Download Original

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Thornhill Primary School wants pupils to develop a love for learning

The school's new library is integral to achieving this mission, empowering children from as young as 4 to script an autonomous learning experience in an inspirational environment.

Going back to the project's inception in November 2017, the design process mobilised the entire school community, without which the project could have never happened in a period of austerity and central government cuts. Workshops with pupils defined our design brief, with hundreds of students engaged with a homework challenge to create their own dream library. We refined their creative input into a design brief for our transformation of an existing dimly-lit undercroft into an adventurous library landscape.

With a playful layering of multi-functional spaces for exploring, reading, events, clubs, debates, performance and role play; brought to life through a bespoke CNC plywood installation, fixed and mobile, with personal reading lighting, integrated computer/video equipment, nooks and dens to hide away with a good book.

Fundraising efforts, driven by the school's charitable Thornhill Foundation, were supported by everyone from parents, careres, neighbours, alumni, famous comedians, Islington council, and local businesses all doing their bit to support the design ambitions of teacher's and pupils alike. As a result, Thornhill Primary School now has a new library, but it also has a bunch of budding architects and an even more tightly knit community who are proud to be associated with the school.

Annual CO2 emissions data (requested in kg/m2/year) was provided as follows: not assessed due to typology


  • Begun: Apr 2019
  • Completed: Jul 2020
  • Floor area: 95m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £190,000
  • Funding: Thornhill Foundation + School
  • Procurement: Traditional [2 no. Phases] Phase 1: Demolition + Refurbishment. Phase 2: Joinery + Fit-out
  • Address: Thornhill Primary School, London, N1 1HX, United Kingdom