Vanguard School

Client Department for Education; National Autistic Society

Sector Schools and Colleges

Location South East

Value £9m

Vanguard School is an inspirational and inclusive learning environment for autistic children and young people that encourages them to flourish and excel within spaces that are calm, flexible, robust and safe. The facility helps meet the demand for special needs educational facilities within the London Borough of Lambeth.

The site was a tight urban plot in Lambeth, South- East London, on a busy main route into the city and surrounded by high-density housing and parkland. The location posed challenges towards designing a SEND learning environment, due to overshadowing from high-rise buildings and noise pollution from the surrounding area, as well as significant potential for privacy and security issues.

To overcome these challenges, we designed and delivered a secure two-storey building with enclosed external play areas located towards the park. The front of the building has a formal public façade onto the main road with the private, rear side of the building opening onto a semi-courtyard external playground area.

Teaching, therapeutic and calm spaces were located away from potential traffic noise and external distractions, while wide corridors and circulation spaces reduce pinch points and minimise the risk of anxiety for the pupils. Light intensity and colour vibrancy are carefully controlled through carefully-considered material and decoration palettes, solar shading, and diffused glazing.

The project was Highly Commended in the Education Estates Awards 2020 in the ‘Inclusive Learning Spaces for All’ category.

We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved since our school opened. We have a state-of-the-art school building, a great staff team and a fantastic group of students.” Antonia Evans Headteacher, Vanguard School