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Hackney School of Food Phase 2

Status: Concept
Client: LEAP Federation and Chefs in Schools
Location: Mandeville Primary School, Clapton, London
Structural Engineers: Structure Workshop
Landscaping Consultancy: Surman Weston, Lidia D’Agostino
Team: Percy Weston, Tom Surman, Hilton Murrell, Ana Moldavsky

Phase 2 of the Hackney School of Food will transform an underused part of the school site to provide additional growing, learning and play spaces. The project will create a year-round productive landscape to complement the teaching kitchen and existing gardens, offering learning opportunities and hands-on experience for children, while helping them engage with the process of growing their own produce from seed.

Our design response was to create an inviting and playful aesthetic without being infantile, so as to appeal to all age groups. By using robust materials and simple details, the project aims to achieve maximum impact for the minimum budget.

The layout is designed so that the key areas are distributed equally around the site. The orchard and play area double as an outdoor teaching space, with an amphitheatre mound linking to the new indoor learning space in the converted former music room. Planted beds along the perimeter walls form a productive green strip surrounding the site.

The large propagation house allows the growing season to be lengthened, and for students to benefit from outdoor learning on colder and wetter days. The structural timber frame can be built using simple joints and without the need for complex carpentry, which helps the building be cost effective while allowing it to have a large open plan area.

Community engagement has been key to the development of the proposals. Surman Weston led a design workshop for local children, as part of a community consultation event at Mandeville Primary School.

Chefs in Schools and LEAP Federation intend to make the designs available to other communities, and as such the project is designed as a kit of parts, with easily replicable and adjustable details, making spaces that are both functional and beautiful.

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