Client Name

Dormers Well Junior School




Garden Studio


External 8m by 12m
Height 2.5m
Internal area 92 m2


This school wished to create a bespoke multipurpose building for their own use and as a public facility for the local community. This 'community suite' was envisaged to include a small office, a kitchen, a disabled toilet and two large areas for use as a classroom, meeting place and creche. There was an area of land at the front of the school that could be utilised for the main building which was designed to ensure it nestled in behind the beautiful mature tree. In addition, as part of this project, the school needed a first aid room, built as a separate entity, in a different location within the school grounds.


Our Garden Spaces designer met with the key personnel on site. Together they looked at the proposed build site and discussed at length the requirements of and aspirations for this substantial building. Whilst still on site he designed a 3D model of the building for the decision makers to look at, interrogate and adapt. This design not only encapsulated the concepts our client had detailed but incorporated some additionally agreed features that we, with our breadth of experience in school builds, know to enhance functionality as well as aesthetics.
It is important to highlight how, on many levels, SIPs (structured insulated panels) builds are perfect for school and commercial sites. These panels, which form the sides, ceiling and floor (laid on concrete pile foundations) are incredibly rigid and highly thermally efficient, having no cold bridging points thus command a u value far lower than government guidelines. All our double glazing (whether uPVC or aluminium framed) is A-rated, made of toughened glass and argon filled. The whole structure is further insulated with a waterproof membrane, battens and secretly fixed solid wood kiln dried cladding. The roof finish is equally robust covered by a join free continuous sheet of EPDM rubber (guaranteed for 20 years). The result is a stand-alone maintenance free building that can be held at the perfect ambient temperature (a vital factor for schools and creches) winter and summer, with minimal energy consumption.
A striking feature of this design, aside from the beautiful western red cedar cladding, is the substantial roof overhang with the non-slip decked area below. This enables the children to play outside in the fresh air even on days when the rain is relentless or the sun dangerously hot. And when temperatures permit, the bifold doors can be swept back to double the available space for the children and adults to spread out and enjoy.
The wide ramp allows wheel chair access through electric double doors opened by means of a coded key pad, giving those individuals greater independence into and out of the building. The entire building was designed to be flooded with natural light from the array of apertures: French doors, bifold doors, roof lights and windows. In addition, for those really gloomy days, there were 10 x 5' contemporary strip lights and 8 down lighters.
Both planning consent and building control were required. We organised these with our associates and throughout the build coordinated closely with outside agencies who were responsible for installing items such as alarms, sprinkler systems.
In addition to this main 'community suite' building this project included a first aid room, tucked away in a different area of the school. This studio was designed with functionality in mind. Without compromise on quality or design a different specification was chosen for certain elements. The frames still in anthracite grey are actually uPVC and the cladding is our kiln dried thermowood, both maintenance free and both contributing to the high thermally efficiency of this much needed first aid room.