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Hackney School of Food

Status: Completed 2020
Client: LEAP Federation and Chefs in Schools
Location: Mandeville Primary School, Clapton, London
Main Contractor: Modernarc
Services Engineering Consultancy: Peter Deer & Associates
Structural Engineers: Structure Workshop
Graphic Design & Illustration: Jean Jullien
Landscaping Consultancy: Surman Weston, Lidia D’Agostino
Photography: Jim Stephenson, Percy Weston
Team: Percy Weston, Tom Surman, Hilton Murrell, Ana Moldavsky

Hackney School of Food is a part of a nationwide initiative to help get young children cooking healthy food that they actually want to eat. The project is being launched in collaboration with Hackney’s LEAP Federation and Chefs in Schools, a charity which aims to improve the quality of primary school dinners by employing professional chefs in school kitchens. The Hackney School of Food will be affiliated with the charity and will provide the facilities for professional chefs to teach children how to grow, cook and eat healthy and delicious food.

The project converts the school’s former caretaker’s cottage into a professional kitchen and transforms the landscaping around to include a large vegetable garden, a productive greenhouse and formal kitchen garden.

To allow the project to be a success, the scheme has been designed to achieve maximum impact for the minimum budget, using robust materials and simple details to make spaces that are both functional and beautiful. Everything has to be suitable for both children and adults so height-adjustable cooking units have been specially designed for the scheme. The aesthetic was also designed to be inviting and playful without becoming infantile, so as to appeal to all age groups.

After school hours and out of term time, the kitchen and gardens will also be used by local community groups for an adult food programme.

The Hackney School of Food project was won by Surman Weston via an invited competition and was completed in 2020.

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