Freshfield Nursery School


June - October 2017


JCT MW 2016;MMD team

Value & scheme:

£112,000; Nursery Extension


Heaton Mersey, Cheshire

Freshfield Nursery School is an early 20th century, single storey building of facing brickwork and pitched slate roof construction, previously converted to provide a series of large open plan learning and play spaces for nursery school education.

In 2017 the Government doubled the amount of free childcare for eligible working parents of three and four year olds from 15 hours per week to 30 hours per week. Delivered from inception to completion in 7 months, this project is a direct response to this initiative. The nursery’s Published Admissions Number (PAN) remains unchanged, but the new extension enhances the existing facilities, supporting a variety of different learning activities, making supervision and passive surveillance easier and empowering children by facilitating unrestricted learning through play. The extension connects to the existing building, through an existing play space which accommodates and supports the various learning/playing activities required to deliver the current Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.

The provision of a new external all weather play deck links the main entrance to a newly formed external bay window access with new covered linking canopy, additionally providing access to the proposed extension and bi-folding doors. From the edge of the proposed deck the ground is bunded, sloping to meet the existing ground level and finished with deep pile artificial grass. This provides an interesting and safe transition between the deck and the wild meadow and woodland activity spaces without enclosing the deck with balustrading. The deck itself is south facing to maximise the natural daylight and passive solar heat through the extensive glazing on this elevation. Actuated opening roof-windows with awnings and sliding doors ensure the internal comfort levels are maintained and overheating is avoided.

The architecture has a rational design language of its time. It reflects the existing building’s principle features and residential vernacular through quality detailing and materials, whilst not attempting a pastiche or replica. The proposed modern, contemporary, elevation materials are deliberately contrasting, using aluminium framed windows and doorsets, along with natural timber Cedar cladding, to provide a modern, sympathetic intervention, but allowing the history of the building to be evident.