Oak Lodge Schoolhttp://www.oaklodge.wandsworth.sch.uk/
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Oak Lodge has won the KS3 Design Development Award, a fantastic achievement. Even more excitingly, the judges were unanimous in their decision that the design from Oak Lodge School be the Overall Winner of the Architecture in Schools Awards 2011 across all the Key Stages!

(Fiona MacDonald- Open City)

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Oak Lodge students have appreciated the historical aspect of St. Bedes Church (designed by Sir Edward Maufe, specifically for the Deaf)  and wanted to retain the structure and its elements, (e.g. double pulpits and sloping floor). However, the condition of the church, disused for more than a decade as a result of a fire, has been slowly dilapidated by maintenance negligence and apathy. Despite this, the local Deaf community utilise the centre’s basement twice weekly for their social / cultural activities.

The site itself has a huge potential development opportunity, to be remodelled for the Deaf community. Unfortunately there is no leadership or interest group to champion its case.


This has been a wonderful opportunity for Oak Lodge School pupils to initiate the much needed drive to reinvent the centre as a 21st century community hub. A Deaf Space for the local Deaf community to thrive: To cultivate cultural identity, to explore educational opportunities, to develop entrepreneurial opportunities, and to be fully self sustaining.

With a range of potential initiatives, welcoming opportunities to engage with local General Public: A nursery, a specialist archive/ library for sign language media, a cinema, an educational resource space, a café/art gallery, rooms to hire, and so on……..

Inspired by a visit to the Blizzard Institute, the pupils realised there are no limits to the possible configuration of space and materials. Take for example, their use of stained glass on the balustrades surrounding a floating ‘mezzanine floor.

Martin Glover (Architect)

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Open-City is an independent education organisation that champions the value of well-designed places and spaces in making a liveable and vibrant city, and the role everyone plays within it.

Karthik Vijayanandam, Maths Teacher

From my perspective, this project benefitted the students in several ways than I expected to.  The students learnt a range of invaluable skills such as working in a team, problem solving and applying a wide range of skills they learnt in maths and art together.  This project particularly allowed pupils to understand the mathematical concept of scales, shapes and size, which they struggled to comprehend within their maths classroom environment; this was an excellent cross curriculum project giving students a taste of how maths and art are used in real life experiences. This is exactly what they need to feel that their education at school is worth it.   I was also impressed by the way the students enhanced their communication skills with a variety of external professionals (both deaf and hearing) involved within the project and was very pleased to hear one comment from a student saying I want to be like an architect in the future.

Personally the project has opened my eyes more and enabled to see the cross curricula links between maths and Art(my weakest subject!) and actually I learnt a couple of things on model making and developed new ideas to teach maths concepts such as scales, shapes, spaces, symmetry and so on which I will be including in future maths lessons. I will certainly be including this project as part of the maths curriculum in the future as well!!!

Lesley Davidson - Senior TA

This project has enabled pupils to think outside the box, to be creative and imaginative. It was a very visual project and our pupils were able to relate to that due to having a very visual language (BSL).  Not only were they  able to work well in teams, they were also able to be individuals with their ideas and contributions.

Martin Glover, Architect

Speechless!  . . . almost. Extremely privileged to work with these students. Most certainly experienced wonderful challenge especially when from day one, they initially commented ' Architecture, what?!' Pleased to see how they flourished the themes, especially with cultural ownership (deaf spaces) within the limited time frame and to see how them question the process of creative design, both on sustainability and specific spatial issues.

It was like… right there’s the idea, the dream… now lets visualise it! It is so rare to be able to share experience, to encourage and develop ideas. As the students became more confident, they became self-assessors, they were able to change and modify ideas. At the end of the process they created really informed designs. I hope I have encouraged them to become involved in the world of design.

Darryl Bedford (Advanced Skills Teacher)

I have been involved in project work for many years now. Oak lodge school actively encourages creative cross curriculum projects. Project work has a potential to develop thinking that brings together skills from diverse areas of the curriculum, providing students with real world experiences and developing problem-solving skills.

Oak Lodge aims to develop enquiring minds, creative thinkers, life long learners and effective communicators.

This project was offered this term as one of the many Enrichment activities our students participate in on a Tuesday afternoon.

I have found that project work tends to enrich all its participants, this project is no exception.

Martin Glover has been a role model and mentor for our students and has, without doubt, enriched their lives.

From the start, it was clear this project had so many learning opportunities; communication, Deaf issues, educating Deaf children, urban development, sustainable architecture, community hubs, functional design, aesthetics, access for all, spatial awareness, creativity, Architectural principles the list goes on.

The Architecture in Schools Community Hub project has broadened many minds, and created spatial critics. Hopefully our students will be more critical of Architecture in the future and be able to identify bad design as well as good. Our students have the perceptive eye of a deaf person and their specific requirements make common sense for mainstream architecture, not only because rounded walls and circular communication spaces benefit the deaf and encourage inclusion, but because it makes social sense. In an increasingly compartmentalised world, human contact and social hubs are a must when we interact. Just as sensible acoustics and lighting is essential for comfortable and effective communication, so is space and aesthetics.

I thought this was a perfect opportunity to oak Oak Lodge students to show what they could achieve if they worked hard.  Children have so much creative potential; I cannot think of another discipline that demonstrates this as well as creative Architecture.

I am very proud to be involved in this project, and have enjoyed editing and producing our final presentation. Although our learning journey has not always been smooth, or transparent, when all of our footage was edited, the scope, learning gains and apparent achievement were impossible to miss.

A very big Thank you to Fiona MacDonald (Open City) for her outstanding guidance throughout!

I can see scope for this project to grow even larger. Our young creative minds are the future!

I am very proud to present Oak Lodge Schools' entry in the Open City Architecture in Schools competition.

Shanée Buxton Headteacher


It was amazing to watch how the project evolved, how the pupils' awareness of architecture grew as they participated in discussions, explored spaces, drew on their own experiences and used their wonderful imaginations to think creatively and develop their own designs.

This will stay with them all their lives.

A huge thank you to all involved in giving our pupils this fantastic experience.

Councillor Kathy Tracey

I have so enjoyed looking at your website of the Architecture project. It looks so exciting to have worked on from the initial concept, interviewing the users, discussing the needs and designing the different options to delivering a really fantastic usable space. Congratulations on winning the Overall Winner of the Architecture in Schools Awards 2011 across all the key stages! A really amazing achievement but very well deserved. I do hope the owners of the St Bedes Church are able to take the project on as I am sure the present users and certainly the future users would gain so much from it. Well done and congratulations to all involved!