Darwin Green Primary School is an integrated 420 place, 2 forms of entry Primary School, 52 place Pre-School and Children’s Centre, with associated outdoor teaching space, play space, sports pitches and landscaping for Cambridgeshire County Council. It is located in the phase 1 of the proposed Darwin Green settlement on the site of the former National Institute for Argicultural Botany on the North West edge of Cambridge.
The layout is predominantly driven by the need to respond to the approved Design Code by addressing the newly formed School Square, providing a local landmark and a strong frontage onto School Lane.
The building has been sited to the North of the site responding to the design code, School Square and the massing of proposed new buildings of Darwin Green.
Soft social spaces, hard play areas and playing fields are located to form an extension to the public open space at the centre of Darwin Green. The heavily used hard social spaces are closest to the building to minimize noise impact on the future residential developments by buffering with less used soft social spaces and sports pitches beyond.
The generously proportioned internal Street functions as a unifying social and teaching space at the heart of the school. All teaching and staff accommodation is arranged off this space and an open stair links the two floors to give a further opportunity for teaching/learning. Light and ventilation wells create further links between ground and first floor and drives the building passive environmental design.
Spaces which have public use are located to the front of the building with teaching spaces further into the site.
The larger, more public accommodation and Children’s Centre are located adjacent School Square, giving a sense of enclosure to this public space. The two storey teaching accommodation with mono pitched roofs gives a building height which forms a transition from the adjacent four storey local centre and library.
The landscape setting for the school plays an important role in providing an attractive backdrop inspiring further learning opportunities. The creation of a variety of active and passive outdoor facilities for the Pre-School, Reception, Keystage 1 and 2 areas are vital in the successful running of the school. The only significant existing site feature, a mature but overgrown hedge which runs down the middle of the site will be layed and thinned to provide an ecological resource.
Darwin green is the fifth school we have designed for Cambridgeshire County Council over a 5 year period.
Cambridgeshire County Council