John Perry Children's Centre, Dagenham, Essex

A school building lit up at night

About the Project

Project Information
  • Client: London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
  • Principal designer: DSDHA
  • Principal contractor: Lakehouse
  • Principal engineer: Price & Myers
  • Contract value: 1.2 million

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham wanted an enlarged school building for primary pupils to meet a pressing need in the area.

The project involved the construction of a purpose-built nursery for local children with the capacity for a further Children's Centre in the future. The design, drawn up after listening to the needs, aspirations and logistical problems of the client, creates a protected garden environment.

With the nursery, a 'studio for children' forms the fourth wall of an existing courtyard. This creates an outdoor teaching area to complement indoor classroom spaces of both existing infant classrooms and the new nursery building, and fitted with the school's wishes to connect their children fully to nature and daylight.

For this reason, glazing and clear plastic was used throughout. The larger Children's Centre has a courtyard at its heart, radiating light throughout the building and providing a visual buffer between the public functions and private, protected world for the children.

The Centre includes play spaces for older children, infant sleeping and changing areas, medical rooms and spaces for public meetings and hire.

The judges said: 'The Centre shows how collaborative working, and rethinking how a school and children's centre could work together, can produce a refreshing local landmark.'

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