DfE Exemplar Primary School Design

The project that launched Walters & Cohen's passion for good school design

The first stage of this two-stage competition attracted 180 entries from practices around the world. Walters & Cohen was one of eleven practices selected to design an exemplar school under the Department for Education (DfE) Building Schools for the Future initiative.

The driving force behind Walters & Cohen's design is the creation of a wonderful learning environment: inspirational, exciting and welcoming, but at the same time safe and secure. There are three main elements to the school: a community zone, an administration block (which also houses a nursery) and the main teaching wing at the heart of the school. In the absence of a real client or real site, this primary school has been designed from the inside out.

The central space, or 'heart' of the school, is key to the flexibility and innovation behind the design. This generous, dynamic space can be tailored to the individual needs of each school, enabling the creation of a unique identity. Where possible, circulation has been incorporated into the heart. The classrooms are arranged in rows on either side of the heart and any number of classrooms can be linked together. They are bright and airy with high ceilings, and each pair opens out onto an external space for outdoor learning.

The design has been used successfully in several of our primary school projects, and by other designers.


ClientDepartment for Education

Total value£3.5m

CompletionFeb 2004

Area2,100 m2

QSDavis Langdon

Contractor consultantISG Interior Exterior

Structural engineerAKT II

Building ServicesMax Fordham LLP

LandscapeEdward Hutchison Landscape Architects

EducationalistJenny Adey

Presentation modelBullfrog Models