Dining and Assembly Hall, Brunswick Park Primary School


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Dining and Assembly Hall, Brunswick Park Primary School, PICTON STREET


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Statutory Address:
Dining and Assembly Hall, Brunswick Park Primary School, PICTON STREET

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Southwark (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Dining and Assembly Hall, Brunswick Primary School, by James Stirling and James Gowan, 1961-2, with minor late-C20 alterations.

Reasons for Designation

The Dining and Assembly Hall at Brunswick Primary School, of 1961-2, by James Stirling and James Gowan, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architecture: a dramatic single storey building of concrete, brick, timber and glass which, in plan-form, is divided into quadrants. It is a bold and imaginative building that uses this innovative design to provide a functional yet unusual educational space; * Landscape: the building is effectively united with its landscape, rising from reinforced angled green banks, above which the distinctive architectural elements crash together in a striking way; * Cultural: a highly significant work by the Stirling-Gowan partnership, designed at the early stages of the partnership and at the same time as the Grade II* University of Leicester Engineering Building, which was to bring the practice to international prominence; * Design: of special architectural interest for the quality and innovation of its design, which retains its integrity as well as many of its original fittings, by one of the most influential architectural partnerships of the period.


The School Dining and Assembly Hall was designed by the architects James Stirling and James Gowan on behalf of London County Council, as an addition to the adjacent Brunswick Park Primary School. The quantity surveyors were Monk and Dunstone and the general contractors were F H Beeching and Son (Keston) Ltd, with a total cost for the build of £22,454. Stirling and Gowan were one of the most influential architectural practices of post-war Britain, although this partnership was to be short lived. Perhaps their most famous building is the listed Engineering Building at the University of Leicester (1961-3), which brought them to international attention, but they were also responsible for domestic yet dramatic properties such as Langham House Close flats, Ham Common, Richmond-upon-Thames (1957-8). Gowan went on to design notable buildings such as the listed Schreiber House, Camden (1962-4). James Stirling's contribution to modern architecture, which included such notable buildings as the Nordrhein Westfalia Museum, Dusseldorf (1975), was recognised by a Knighthood in 1992, shortly before his death, and by the eponymous annual Stirling Prize awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The hall is a highly significant work by the short lived Stirling-Gowan partnership, realising ideas from Gowan's early house studies, Stirling's Woolton Park House and their competition entry for the prestigious Churchill College Cambridge competition of 1958. The use of a quadrantal plan and the collision of mono-pitch roofs at Brunswick are devices important to the architects.

The hall was built on former bomb cleared land. This allowed a design unimpeded by any surrounding structures and which could form a startlingly modern contrast to the red brick Victorian school. It was originally conceived as a part of a larger annexe intended to provide additional accommodation, including a U-shaped classroom to the south of the hall enclosing an open courtyard, with a covered way linking the Victorian building and modern hall and unifying the school site following the intended closure of Bantry Street. Regrettably the hall was the only element of the design to be constructed, but it continues to fulfil its intended function by providing the school with a hall and dining room.


Dining and Assembly Hall, Brunswick Primary School, by James Stirling and James Gowan, 1961-2, with minor late-C20 alterations. Concrete, white and red brick, timber and glass.

PLAN: Square, divided into quadrants with four reinforced concrete beams spanning the gap between the external walls and a single column at the centre of the plan. The southerly half of the building forms the hall; the northerly houses the service wing including, in the north-west quadrant, a supervisor's office, staff room and stores with a kitchen accommodated in the north-east quadrant. The building form is echoed by landscaping which reinforces the quadrantal plan in earth ramps with brick retaining walls surrounded by an encircling path. Access is through off-centre doors in every elevation, approached by paths cut through the external mounds which funnel towards the doorways. The roof is dramatic: three square sections rise from the centre point to their maximum height at the west, south and east elevations of the building; in contrast, the north-west quadrant over the service wing is flat roofed with a tall chimney at the north-west corner.

EXTERIOR: There is no principal façade. The building is designed to be viewed from all sides, although the north-west corner, with its flat-roofed service wing and chimney, is the least dramatic. The spilt and rising roof allows the extensive use of vertical glazing on the west, south and east elevations, while the jutting roof sections, ramp retaining walls, low and narrow side glazed panels and polychrome brick detailing provide contrast and interest. The principal windows are divided into six vertical and four horizontal sections, with pivoting units to allow ventilation. While the window form is as designed the glazing has been replaced. The smooth grassed earth banks are an integral part of the original design intended, perhaps, to give the impression that the building had burst out of the ground.

INTERIORS: Internally the building is functionally bisected into hall and service accommodation although the quadrantal design is also readable. The north-west quadrant is divided into a series of small rooms, the majority of which are located off a narrow west-east corridor. These include various storerooms for foodstuffs and cleaning equipment, a boiler room, staff room and a supervisor's office. Many internal features are original, including the exposed red brick partition walls, wooden tongue and groove ceiling cladding, and cast iron radiators and strip lighting. The food store walls have floor to ceiling white glazed tiles and anti-slip tiled floor surfacing. An original low horizontal window in the west wall of the staff room survives but has been secured with internal bars. Toilets were added to the south of this quadrant in circa 1995-6.

The kitchen occupies the north-east quadrant and is open plan to the hall, with red-tiled floor and walls to the bottom of the main window height. The kitchen is dominated by stainless steel units and an exposed extractor system above. The low horizontal window in the north wall survives but has also been secured with bars.

The hall fills the southern half of the building, although one space gives the impression of two adjoining rooms as the design of the roof means that it dips to a low beam dividing the south-west and south-east quadrants. The walls of this part of the building are in stock brick, painted in a pale blue colour scheme below main window height and left exposed above. The roof is of timber tongue and groove cladding, between timber rafters; all including the diagonal braces painted white and lit by strip lighting. The floor is all one; in herringbone wood block. Vertical climbing frames fixed to the south and north wall appear original. The north-west wall of the hall is formed by large sliding doors, which hide chair and equipment stores and are part of the original design. Two low windows in the south and east walls have been blocked. The tilted roof throws light into the hall, as well as shadows from the horizontal and vertical lines of the large windows, and the diagonals of the roof beams.


Books and journals
Cherry, B, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: London 2: South, (1994)
Giroud, M, Big Jim: The Life and Works of James Stirling, (1998)
Not Known, , 'Architect and Buildings News' in School Dining Hall And Assembly Hall, Camberwell, (1964)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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