Belvue Woodland Classroom

photos © Jim Stephenson

Belvue Woodland Classroom

A new woodland classroom forming a gateway in the school’s site boundary with an adjacent ancient woodland; including a cosy living room and a sociable kitchen connected to the landscape via a messy barn.

Belvue School
160 m2
Project dates
Design: July 2013 - August 2015 Construction: June 2016 - February 2018
Services provided
Architecture Feasibility, Concept, Developed & Technical Design (RIBA St 1-4); Contract Administration (RIBA St 5-6)
Design team
  • Timberwright (Timber Structure)

  • Arup (Building Services Engineer)

  • IMS (Contractor)

  • Civic Trust Award, 2018

  • RIBA Regional, London, 2018

  • RIBA Regional, London, ‘Client of the Year’, 2018

  • Wood Awards, ‘Judge’s Special Award’ 2018

  • AJ Building of the Year under £250k, 2018, shortlisted

Project type
Use type
Community & Education

Studio Weave were appointed by Belvue School – a secondary school for boys and girls aged between 11 and 19 with moderate to severe learning difficulties and a range of other additional education needs – to design a unique and magical classroom facility to sit separately from the main school building and adjacent to a woodland that the school has recently gained custodianship over. Through a process of engagement with school staff and students, the project went beyond designing a new building for the school; and delivered a narrative for the woodland that opened up imaginative ways of engaging with this natural asset at Belvue, as part of a rich learning environment.

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The boundary between the playground and woods marks the border between familiar school territory and the magical, mysterious world of trees. The building was designed as a gatehouse between one world and another. The classrooms were required to provide two types of much-needed learning spaces for the school: a calm, informal teaching space; and a separate space for a student-run school café.

The interior spaces was designed to capture a domestic quality; exposed timber frame and birch plywood wall linings within the Woodland Classroom provide a warm, natural learning environment. The concave ceiling provides: a lower head height at entry that then opens up as you move towards the centre of the room; a surface which allows light from the clerestory to spill across its entire surface; and stack effect which allows for the spaces to be entirely naturally ventilated.

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