THE HANDMADE BRICKS OF HIGHGATE JUNIOR SCHOOL
Commissioned by Highgate School and designed by Architype, the new Junior School replaces outdated teaching accommodation with ambitious and inspirational new facilities. Architype was selected following a design competition in which it proposed a scheme that had distinctive presence with robust connections to the existing landscape, and which would be able to provide the students and staff with an enjoyable environment from and in which to learn.
An early and critical design decision was to retain and refurbish Ingleholme, an existing Victorian villa located on a prominent corner of the site. The complex renovation enabled the new elements of the scheme to be woven into the existing urban fabric. The H-shaped plan accommodates the south-to-north slope of the site, allowing the landscape and external teaching areas to connect directly to the heart of the building and bring natural light in and views out.
To the east, the main entrance and administration offices, school hall, and specialist teaching block form the public frontage to Bishopswood Road. Coupling the historical yellow brick of Ingleholme with contemporary materials such as handmade red brick, stone and glass, has created an attractive rhythm to the façade that complements the historical character of the street. To the west, topped by a meadow grass roof, the curved two-storey classroom block addresses the school playing fields, creating a private and secure environment with fine views.
Between the two, the ‘beating heart’ of the school is formed by a vibrant circulation space, lit by a continuous roof light that runs the length of the zone. Providing shared learning areas, an exhibition space and stepped areas that allow for informal performance, the space is animated by a selection of high quality materials and hand-carved sculptures that reflect the school’s emphasis on natural history.