Lighting consultant Slender Winter Partnership Client Kent County Council

The Riverhead School is a replacement for an old Victorian school supplemented by temporary classrooms. Built in 2001 by Architects Design Partnership, it was designed to be a 'green building' to fit into the landscape, and to be both educationally and environmentally responsive. The school is designed to house 270 pupils, and is not thought to require future expansion.

The complex is approached from the north side, which houses the entrance, and contains the service areas of the building, with space for the arrival and parking of cars.

The form of the building consists of an arch section facing south housing all the teaching areas. The roof fits into the landscape by being covered in vegetation. Originally designed to be covered in grass, a decision was made to use 'Sedum' to save weight and the associated structure cost.

The teaching classrooms open to the south on to landscaped areas, and are all daylit by means of the window walls, associated with circular rooflights to the rear of the spaces. The classrooms open out on to external teaching spaces, and these are divided up by removable canvas 'sails' which are stretched across between the classrooms; these provide both privacy and protection, advice being sought from an environmental audit by the Building Research Establishment at an early stage of the design.

Air freshness is a particular concern in classrooms, and when it is too cool or windy to open upthe glazed double doors, vents are available above the doorheads, together with the openable rooflightto provide air movement. The curved section of the building assists in which the ceiling rises towards the rooflight, similar to the useful ventilation volume provided by the traditional high ceiling of the Victorian schoolroom.

The design meets the requirement to provide an environmentally responsive building, with an excellence of environment in which daylight plays an important part.

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Architect's perspective to show the building concept

Building sections

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