Zoe Symonds

BA (Hons) Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1)


Hi.  I’m Zoe and I’ve now finished Part 1 Architecture at UCA Canterbury having studied there for 3 years.  My final project is a design for a Pre-School Village in Bow, Tower Hamlets – London.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did working on it!

The population of Tower Hamlets is growing by 15 residents every day.  Population growth demands more homes, which in turn significantly impacts social and physical infrastructure – including schools for all ages.  The government has recognised that there is a major problem.

In 2010, a study conducted by Professor Peter Barratt and his team at Oxford University concluded that 7 physical characteristics of a school can impact the learning process of children by up to 16%.  The ‘Clever Classroom Study’ looked at:

Clean Air, Ownership, Temperature, Natural Light, Complexity, Flexibility & Colour.

It is these 7 characteristics that can be found threaded and embedded through to the very core of the Chisenhale Pre-School Village.  Everything has been designed with the users of the village in mind – door handles suited for both children and teachers, lower windowsills for better child visibility, easy access around the school using a gentle ramp, flexible spaces to be used for multiple activities, gentle but stimulating colours to sign post areas and give a sense of belonging and ownership, and play areas undercover but outside, with built in sandpit and play areas.

Whilst the well-being of the children is paramount, this is paralleled to the well-being of our planet on which the children should thrive.  Energy is harnessed from solar panels which run the Water Source Heat Pump using water from the adjacent canal.  This is then used to heat the village buildings, leaving the rest of the spaces open and naturally ventilated, avoiding heating unnecessary areas within the school.  Biodiversity allows the children to be at one with nature whilst helping to remove the harmful particulates from the London air.

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Chisenhale Pre-School Village Clip
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Massing & Design Features
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Chisenhale Pre-School Village
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Model Scale 1:100
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Spotlight on a Classroom
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