The Pavilion SEN School has been created from two existing buildings with a lean and careful remodelling. It will serve 16-18 year old pupils in Hackney.
Originally known as New Regents College the school consists of two very different buildings which are each great examples of the architectural thinking of the time.
The Special Care Unit of 1972 is an early example of the work of Foster Associates and was designed as an innovative new school for a charity serving younger children with special needs. Steel framed, profiled metal clad, it promoted education for a cohort who had been largely excluded at that point.
Over the past 50 years the building had suffered from unsympathetic alterations and neglect which made it hardly recognisable. There had been attempts to List the building but the condition and damage suffered had denied the building such status. It was occupied by ‘Guardians’ for several years.
Although studies had been prepared which altered the building further, we were interested in its original intentions and plan, and initiated a process of redesign and a general raising of the awareness of its Heritage value. We sought to preserve and reinstate where possible the organisation and features of the original including its sliding screens and original colour scheme and matched the new uses to its original arrangement.
The 1960 Training Centre building with its ‘mid-century’ flavour, was also considered by the team to hold many qualities which deserve preservation and reinstatement where possible. This building, takes its cues from the modernist language of the likes of Alvar Aalto, with timber boarded ceilings and exposed concrete brickwork and originally used courtyards to light and link spaces.
Again, this was an exercise in stripping away the clutter of decades to reveal original spaces and bring light back in to what had become a cavernous series of spaces. A new ‘Cafe’ and training kitchen were formed to create both a social space for visitors and parents and an opportunity for students to learn the skills in hospitality.
The two buildings bring new life to this site after years of neglect and will be a new home for students living with extreme forms of Autism. The emphasis is on preparation for life – as with the award winning Garden School which GLA completed in 2014.