Case Study

Croxley Danes School Serving Students and the Community through Holistic Design

Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom

The Challenge

Work within site, cost and time constraints to design a new secondary school for 1,200 pupils adjacent to Metropolitan Open Land, while also planning for the school’s potential expansion in the future. 

Environmental factors and community connections were important to school leadersAbandoned buildings on the site needed to be removed, the south side of the site was at risk of flooding from surface water and sloping of the site would dictate where new buildings would be placed. The design team needed to consider ways to maintain trees and the natural habitat zone in the surrounding area. 

The Design Solution

The school’s permanent building makes the best use of its site and remains close to public transport and other community facilities in the area. Materials on the exterior of the building help create a subtle yet crisp design. The use of light brickwork helps blend the building into its natural surroundings. The perforations in the panels to the classroom windows will draw their inspiration from the patterning of a leaf, which mimics the surrounding vegetation and the adjacent greenbelt. These panels work similarly to traditional louvers by providing ventilation with 50% free area while simultaneously providing the building with a way to reference its natural landscape. 

The design team carefully considered where each type of space within the building should be located to best serve pupils and staff. The pupil’s entrance and pedestrian route will be kept separate and safe from vehicular routes. Positioning the car park on the southern part of the site will allow the school to retain as many trees as possible while allowing for the best use of the playing grounds. The East side of the building will accommodate mainly general teaching classrooms whilst the Western wing will accommodate halls, staff facilities and kitchen. The sports hall, dining area and main hall are grouped together at the front of the building, next to the entrance which relates to the wider masterplan of the site where the ‘community-area’ is made more apparent. 

The Design Impact

The holistic design approach respects the school’s natural surroundings and sets up the school for future potential expansion. The project worked with the existing levels and contoured sensitively to provide ecological and biodiversity benefits, maximise the outdoor space by creating areas for multi-functional use, and retain the site’s existing historic elements. 

The school moved into its new site in the fall of 2020. The sports facilities and school hall will be available for the community use outside of school hours as a way for the school to give back to the community. 

Project Features

  • Facade rhythm
  • Internal breakout spaces
  • Perforated window panels
  • Landscape
  • New build secondary school for 1,200 pupils