Branching Out with New Building ‘The Tree House’
In line with the eco-friendly ethos of Penn Wood Primary and Nursery School (PWS) based in Slough, the school has called in the services of Wernick to produce a building to meet their ‘sustainable’ themed criteria, a building justly called ‘The Tree House’.
The primary aged population is at the highest it has been for 50 years, an increase that is unlikely to subside, with primary schools expected to face a further 18% rise in pupils by 2020. Discussing the concept of an expansion, head teacher Jane Girle was adamant that any new building was aesthetically pleasing and a mirror image of the main school building. The other primary objective was to ensure that the building conformed to the eco-friendly philosophy of the school. Fortunately, the highly receptive architects listened and worked alongside the school to produce a new ‘sustainable’ building fit for teaching in the 21st century.
Anne Sheridan, the business manager of the school, made this statement regarding why the new building was named ‘The Tree House’: “Sustainability is a very prominent ethos throughout our school; it is something that we try to inform all of our students about. We are happy to announce that we are the first school in Slough to get a green flag rating; this was one of the key incentives behind the name. Another factor is that the school is immersed in nature, entirely surrounded by trees…so it simply seemed applicable.”
The school opted for a modular building because it required an increased capacity in a short space of time; furthermore, the cost of the build was inherently far less than that of regular construction. Anne Sheridan also informs us that a great deal of research went into the building: “Word of mouth speaks volumes, and through a continued correspondence with other schools in Slough we found that one name featured heavily, that name was Wernick. We visited other schools that had recently expanded to take a look at the work that had taken place and were very impressed with the results.”
Constructing 3 new classrooms, together with two breakout rooms, Wernick, in conjunction with the appointed architects and the school’s own consultant cleverly utilised the space so as to not encroach on the outdoor areas and playing fields. The cedar wooden cladding was matched carefully to the existing building and the roof of the new building was in line with the first floor of the main building.
The classrooms themselves are bright, airy and well ventilated with air-conditioning. The new building does not appear to be out of place and blends in effortlessly with the whole school environment. The colour of the walls and carpets match the current school décor and the children in the Tree House do not feel segregated in any way from the main building.
The construction was seamless – the modular buildings were delivered over a period of two days, and then the finishing work began in earnest. The construction team were unobtrusive, and the noise levels were kept to a minimum and did not impact on the teaching and learning of the school.
All of the staff are delighted with the new building and the classrooms; so much so that the school is currently in talks with SBC regarding a phase 2 expansion. All of the teachers conveyed a desire to move into the new building as soon as possible, expressing how much they believed it was in sync in terms of design, and welcoming the integration of state of the art ICT and air-con.