King Alfred's Brief
Since its inception in 1898 this informal, progressive school has sought to educate in a way that pushes boundaries. There is no official uniform and you can even find a small farm on the grounds, which reflects their embrace of progressive thinking and outside learning. The school seeks to build young people’s self-reliance and self-sufficiency through independent and experiential learning.
The objective was to provide a collaborative Learning Centre space for year groups up to Year 8 so that ‘topic’ based learning can span several subjects and the children can learn in an environment that suits them.
For the Learning Centre, the space was originally three classrooms. The vision was to open this up so that it could still accommodate a maximum of three year groups – up to 70 children.
We also worked in the Sixth Form Centre. Designed by Walters and Cohen, this was a wonderfully calm space, with birch ply fitted kitchen and furniture, a muted palette and beautiful high shaped ceilings. Envoplan was asked to design and provide furniture which embraced this look and feel.
We created three main types of learning environment for the school’s new collaborative Learning Centre. The ‘Mountain Top’ – with one person teaching the group – was achieved with our Teaching Wall product along one wall, and bespoke seating. The opposite end of the area now has ‘cave spaces’ – these are small enclosed rooms, with different shaped ‘snuggle pods’ for children to read and study independently or in pairs. The large open area has shaped tables on wheels with ‘wobble stools’ which can be rearranged to suit the lesson by the students themselves, and moveable acoustic screens which can create small ‘Campfire’ learning spaces – small group learning. To make the space work, Envoplan used ceiling fixed baffles and curved internal walls to reduce sound-spread. Colours are muted in order to keep the space tranquil and invoke the pleasant surroundings of Hampstead Heath and the school has plans in the future to develop the space outside the building to further extend this way of working.
In the Sixth Form Centre, we were pleased to install a large Zen Bench with solid oak X-frame and black top with integral power for group studies, plus circular ply legged tables and solid timber chairs for private study. In the dining and social areas, we provided stylish and robust solid oak framed dining tables and benches with white laminate tops, button back sofas, giving the area pops of colour with steel laptop tables in bright yellow. This modern, fresh and inspirational contemporary design has proved a real success with the school’s older students as well as giving their younger students something tangible to aspire to.