Heyhouses Nursery School
Heyhouses Nursery School is a full time education private nursery school located on the site of Heyhouses Church of England Primary School in Lytham St. Annes. The private nursery is operated as a charity and aims to offer affordable childcare of an excellent standard to the local community. The nursery school is extremely popular and well-loved and has been in operation for over twenty years.
As part of the masterplan design for the new Heyhouses C of E Primary School, it was deemed necessary to relocate the existing nursery building due to the location of the new school and it’s amenities. The new school masterplan identified a new site location for the nursery school within which proposals for a new building could be developed.
Following an evaluation of the existing aging nursery building it was decided that the relocation of this building would not be practical or appropriate, and as such the design process for a new nursery school began.
The nursery Trustees saw this new beginning as an opportunity to provide an exciting new home for the nursery school. The nursery has long had a reputation as a great place for children to begin their journey into school life, and this would provide the opportunity to create a building that could further enhance that. Due to demand for nursery places in the local area, it also provided the opportunity to expand the nursery school to accommodate 40 FTE child places.
The design process for the new nursery school building was thorough and inclusive. A competitive design process resulted in the appointment of Creative SPARC Architects (CSA) to design and deliver the new building on behalf of Heyhouses Nursery School.
Following this appointment, the initial concept design evolved significantly to include the input of nursery Trustees, however the fundamental design principals that drove the initial design remained.
Consultation was also carried out with nursery staff, parents, and Lancashire County Council, with all feedback contributing to the final design proposal.
Project Type: Commission
Client(s): Heyhouses Nursery School
Size: 220 sqm
Location: Lytham, Lancashire, UK
Year: March 2013
The design of the new nursery school was generated from a combination of the Trustee’s brief, design guidance on new nursery school buildings and past experience of working on similar educational and specifically nursery-age projects.
The heart of the design is the two open-plan flexible nursery teaching spaces connected by a central toilet core, cloaks area, and small covered external courtyard leading into the main external learning space. This arrangement enables many different activities to be happening concurrently in the nursery spaces, whilst the connecting shared cores ensure that the whole space still feels as one.
The nursery teaching spaces are generous, with lots of natural light and tall ceilings. Opening perimeter windows, large sliding doors, and high-level windows for extract will allow the spaces to be naturally ventilated. The building has been located within the designated new nursery school site to allow ease of access from the adjacent new school footpath and new school, as well as to maximise the South-Westerly orientation for the main internal teaching spaces and the external learning area. A large louvred canopy will provide solar and weather protection to an area of the external learning space as well as the South-West facade.
The ancillary accommodation comprising an office, kitchen, and staff facilities have been included within areas to the North of the site, however these spaces still provide good levels of natural light and ventilation to their users.
The design of the building focuses on the nursery school children as the principal users and as such their needs were at the forefront of our thinking. As a result, the scale of the new building has been deliberately kept small to provide a welcoming and reassuring presence to the young children that will visit it. The massing of the building is read as four interconnecting blocks that each house specific functions within. This prevents the building becoming overly large in scale which the Trustees were keen to avoid, and also has significant economic benefits which are very important on a charity funded project.
The design, form, and materiality of the new primary school which sits adjacent to the new nursery school has also heavily influenced the scheme. The Trustees wanted the building to sit comfortably within the context of the new school, however for it to have its own character and identity as a private nursery school in its own right. This balance has been achieved by incorporating the same palette of materials as the new school, including brick type, render colours, window frame colours, and roof finish. The pitch of the rooves also match that of the Reception block on the new school, and similar floor-length windows have been included where appropriate.
The building’s individual identity therefore had to emanate from the detailing and application of these materials, colours, and facade treatments, as well the approach to the massing of the design. The form comprises two main symmetrical blocks of a similar scale and roof pitch to the new school’s Reception. These blocks house the open-plan teaching spaces. A similar yet smaller scale block to the North of the site houses the office, multi-use space, and other ancillary accommodation. The difference in scale between the two identifies the teaching spaces as the most important parts of the building, whilst reducing construction costs where possible.
These three blocks are connected by a flat roofed element that houses the central toilet core, kitchen, and main entrance. This again reducesthe building’s scale, focussing attention on the most important spaces and reducing construction costs. The facade treatments and colours also follow this design logic.