Saunders wins planning for sensitive new addition to 18th century girls school in Newham

Saunders have designed a new ground floor dining facility and first floor music department for Sarah Bonnell School, a secondary school in Newham and one of the oldest girls schools in the UK.

The extension, which has received planning permission, is a result of the demand for school places in the local area and part of the school expansion plan to accommodate an additional 120 pupils over a five year period.

The proposed redevelopment involves carefully extending part of the existing building whilst retaining the majority of the ornate Edwardian elevations. The ground floor dining wing is to be enlarged and extended upwards to provide new first floor accommodation.

At first floor level the original building and new extension are joined with a distinctive glazed link which unifies the two, yet highlights the character of each. The school buildings have historic architectural merit and it was important to preserve them whilst allowing the contemporary elements to sit comfortably alongside the original building.

The new larger dining room will have access to an outdoor covered dining area with tensile canopies that can be used in the summer and allow for students to dine together in one place. Existing music facilities are flawed as they are situated close to the noise sensitive classrooms, whereas the proposed new block is located away from study areas and will meet stringent acoustic requirements. A sedum green roof will sit on a lower exposed roof and views from the first floor will look out over this to the school green beyond.

Associate Director with Saunders, Annabel Lait commented:

‘Sarah Bonnell School was in need of extra space to accommodate more pupils, and with some of the original buildings dating back to 1905, also in need of remodelling. We have worked with the school to provide a diverse range of spaces that will enhance and provide flexibility for learning and teaching’.

Construction is due to begin in April 2019.