In recent years there has been much discussion over the design of schools, notably during the government led Building Schools of The Future (BSF) programme of 2004-10. Its generous funding model that encouraged excess at times has led to school architecture to go under scrutiny. Today, one could say we have a model of austerity for building schools. Hackney Free School, a mixed-ability school with a music specialism, was founded in 2013. It is an interesting case study in this context showing the way forward for Free School architecture despite current constraints. The new building is designed by Shoreditch-based studio Henley Halebrown Rorrison (HHbR).
Hackney New School is a mixed-ability Free School with a focus on music, combining a 500-pupil secondary school and 200-pupil sixth form. The site, in a conservation area next to the Regent’s Canal Kingsland Basin, is tight. L-shaped, it combines a disused builders yard - formerly Union Wharf with the Wharf Master’s House intact - and a Post War telephone exchange.
The 5,500m2 scheme is planned around a central ball court and play space.
The 6-storey Canal Building accommodates a double-height multipurpose dining, music and drama performance space, a floor for music, another for science, the staff room, library, 6th form study and social spaces, and 60% of the secondary school class bases.
The 4-storey telephone exchange is adapted with a storey added to accommodate the remaining classrooms and sixth form seminar spaces, SEN, the changing rooms and storage “warehouse”.
The 5-storey Kingsland Building forms a buffer between the school and the noise and fumes of Kingsland Road accommodates offices, IT and ADT.
The original Wharfmaster’s house is to be converted into a pupil wellbeing centre.