Mellor Primary School
Designed by Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, The extension for Mellor Primary School provides a series of new spaces based on the school’s ‘Forest School’ ethos, believing that learning through the outdoor environment is key to helping children build resilience, resourcefulness and an ability to work together. It is, in effect, a ‘tree house’: a cluster of pitched roof forms set on a deck extending out into the landscape.
A low-energy extension to Mellor Primary School in Stockport allowed the school to fulfil its potential as a leading “Forest School”. The project incorporates a biodiverse habitat wall with areas for planting, bird boxes and bat boxes, and came in under budget. The practice also submitted two projects at Takeley, Essex – a new 1.5 FE primary school and the extension and light-touch refurbishment of a disused school.
The goal, for Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, was to bring nature even closer to the students of Mellor Primary School. It was extremely crucial for the firm to create a conducive learning environment for the school, which is not just computers and endless days spent toiling behind desks. The school considers learning and playing outdoors extremely important as part of their students’ curriculum.
Extension and remodelling works were also required to complement the school’s natural surroundings. The Mellor Primary School sports new toilets and a library, an additional classroom with a great view, an extended hall for performances, a raised deck for outdoor lessons, tree canopies, outdoor facilities, and more to accommodate the ever-growing number of students.
The community of parents and their children play a crucial role in the design of the school’s extension project. The students were involved in the design aspects of the habitat wall, which is made from salvaged materials. With the habitat wall, Mellor today could be described as a school that doubles as a habitat for plants with the addition of planting pockets, birds that live in bird boxes designed by the school’s caretaker, and bugs. A trellis screens off the area below deck.
“The Western red cedar shingle cladding allows the building to sit comfortably in its Green Belt setting. Tree-like glulam frames support the deck, the roofs internally and the canopies externally. The new classroom and library enjoy views into the surrounding tree canopy. The covered external deck areas can be used as for play or as an outdoor classroom. The low-energy building features a striking habitat wall designed and built in partnership with the pupils. The thickened wall accommodates bio-diverse habitats for birds, insects, small animals and plants.” – The Wood Awards
Sarah Wigglesworth Architects:
Embedded in its woodland setting on the edge of the Peak District, this extension to Mellor Primary School provides a series of imaginative indoor and outdoor learning spaces that forge new connections to nature.
Constructed using natural and locally-sourced materials, the building takes inspiration from the Forest School ethos at Mellor. The habitat wall is the centrepiece of this idea. Working together with the children, we created imaginative and ecologically diverse cladding compartments to provide homes for birds, bees, bugs and bats.
The finished building is the result of close collaboration with the school and wider community. Weekend build events saw parents, teachers and our team at SWA pitch in to construct the habitat wall using salvaged materials. We devised a guide with suggested methods of construction to help the eager volunteers.
The uplifting atmosphere brings out the best in the pupils and welcomes in the community that has helped create it. The extension transforms the school into a stimulating environment, which staff, children and the community feel proud of and enjoy spending time in.
The proposals use natural and reclaimed materials with low-embodied energy, whilst benefitting from efficiencies of modern methods of construction.
Pre-fabricated insulated timber wall cassettes span across the repeating glulam frames. These cassettes were manufactured off site, and could be lifted into place to form the roof and walls. Cedar shingles and straw bale insulation dress the timber frame, whilst reclaimed materials such as tyres form stepping stones in the landscape. Locally found timber offcuts, clay tiles and glass bottles infill the compartments of the habitat wall.
Project name: Mellor Primary School
Location: Knowle Rd, Stockport SK6 5PL, United Kingdom
Coordinates: 53.394569, -2.040123
Project Area: 226 sqm
Visit Mellor Primary School’s Website: here
Client / Owner / Developer: Mellor Primary School
- Sarah Wigglesworth Architects – 10 Stock Orchard St, London N7 9RW, United Kingdom
Main Contractor/Builder: MPS Construction
- Structural Engineer: Rhodes and Partners
- Environmental/M&E Engineer: Watt Energy & Consulting Engineers Ltd
- Quantity Surveyor/Cost Consultant: Wilkinson Cowan Partnership
Selected suppliers & subcontractors, Manufacturers:
- Joinery Company: Romiley Joinery Ltd
- Wood Supplier: Vincent Timber
- Glulam Frame Supplier: Constructional Timber Manufacturers Ltd
Text Description: © Courtesy of Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, The Wood Awards
Images: © Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, Beccy Lane