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Cotton End Forest School

Bedford

Project Details

£5m to £9.99M

New Build, Within a Conservation Area

Practice

Lungfish Architects Ltd

Level 2 , City Gate West , Tollhouse Hill , NOTTINGHAM , NG1 5AT

Cotton End Primary School was squeezed into a small Victorian building. Needing to expand and increase its capacity, the school relocated to a new site on the edge of a community forest, which created the opportunity to carve out a new kind of inspiring learning environment. Cotton End Forest School is a flagship purpose-built forest school that will provide 686 much-needed school places and inspire a generation to learn from the world around them. Set within an extensive parkland setting, the relationship between the buildings and the landscape are exploited, encouraging the children to explore and interact with the outside environment during their day-to-day schooling. We created a school campus of four teaching pavilions with a ‘forest gateway’ entrance building. The design also includes outdoor teaching canopies placed around the campus to provide shelter from the elements ensuring that outdoor activities can continue and be enjoyed, whatever the weather. Cotton End Forest School is now a three form-entry primary school with a 60-place nursery. Classrooms open directly to the outside, offering pupils plenty of opportunity to mix classroom-based lessons with the outdoor spaces; a pond with a dipping platform, amphitheatre, meadows, forests, outdoor classroom pavilions, a market garden and market square. Rainwater harvesting, surface water drainage swales, bug hotels, solar panels and recycling all help the children to learn about sustainability within their own environment and play an active part in achieving it. A ‘forest gateway’ entrance building provides out-of-hours community facilities, and the inclusion of cutting-edge teacher training facilities will help the school to achieve landmark national support status.