In 2014, the Directors of Rosemary Works School in Hackney, east London commissioned us to reinvent and redesign their school as part of a major investment in the future facilities and infrastructure of their buildings. Working in collaboration with the school directors, teachers, parents and pupils, we developed a contemporary vision that breathed new life into both the ground- and first-floor spaces of the building. For us, this was a chance to develop an innovative concept that responded to the school’s unique needs, wants and resources.
Our first task was to unpick the building’s history, understanding its original late-Edwardian design principles and features, as well as the additions added to the interiors over the succeeding years. Adapting the traditional English ‘interwar’ wall treatment, we divided the interior walls into sections, allowing portions to be used in various ways for different activities. The lower sections are specifically designed for the children to interact with, whilst the middle sections cater to the teachers’ needs. A contemporary frieze along the top section of the walls gives each classroom a blank canvas to tell a unique, individual story that could change and build up over time.
We also interspersed ‘reveals’ and nooks, such as window seats, across the school. As well as being centrepiece features, these create private and semi-private environments for quiet activities and also offer surfaces to display children’s work.
To reflect Rosemary Works’ unique location on the Regent’s Canal, we added a fleet of mobile ‘canal barge’ structures around the school containing interactive elements to support a variety of learning activities.
Incorporating our research into schools designed by the late Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer, we conceived some of our design’s major elements as a standardised ‘kit of parts’ to enable the school’s governing body to add more ‘parts’ as required over the coming years.
Overall, we developed a future-flexible, coherent, vibrant interior based upon a thorough understanding of the demands of Rosemary Works’ current occupants while reinterpreting the heritage of the building and its immediate surroundings. Our design won a Dulux ‘Let’s Colour’ Award in 2015.
“One aspect of the educational vision which underlies everything we do is the physical space in which our children are taught and learn. Now that the school is expanding again, we thought that the time was right to embark on this ambitious programme to re-imagine Rosemary Works, and we are delighted with the results of our collaboration with Aberrant Architecture, who have helped us realise our vision for the school as we enter this new, expansionary phase.”
Jacqueline Loque, Director of Rosemary Works
Rosemary Works School
De Beauvoir Town, London