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Sprites Primary Academy, including entrance walls with sculptural relief panels to Stonechat Road

List Entry Summary

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

Name: Sprites Primary Academy, including entrance walls with sculptural relief panels to Stonechat Road

List entry Number: 1441403

Location

Sprites Primary Academy, Stonechat Road, Ipswich, IP2 0SA

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

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

County: Suffolk

District: Ipswich

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Non Civil Parish

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: II

Date first listed: 03-Oct-2017

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Building

Former infant and junior schools, designed in 1959 by Birkin Haward of Johns, Slater and Haward for the County Borough of Ipswich. Work began on site in 1958, with the infant school completed in 1959 and the junior school in 1960. The job architect was HF Fleck, with J Earwaker and K Dowse as assistants. Minor alterations and extensions were undertaken in the later-C20 and early-C21, including conversion to a single primary school in 2004. Included in the listing are five cement relief panels and brick walls which flank the school's Stonechat Road entrance gate. Excluded from the listing are the nursery school addition of 1996 and the early-C21 link corridor and staff room.

Reasons for Designation

Sprites Primary Academy, designed in 1956 by Birkin Haward of Slater, Johns and Haward of Ipswich, and built between 1958 and 1959, with a hyperbolic paraboloid roof designed by Hugh Tottenham of the Timber Development Association, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* an innovative design, combining a timber hyperbolic paraboloid roof with a simple, but thoughtful palette of materials; * it was the second major project in Britain to use a hyperbolic paraboloid timber roof, and with the demolition of the first example, the Royal Wilton Carpet Factory in the 1980s, it is believed to be the earliest known surviving building in Britain to use this method of construction; * for the fusion of art with architecture as a component of the design ethos. As a concerted, widespread movement for art in schools never materialised, it illustrates much about state patronage of the arts in post-war Britain and the tripartite relationship between artist, architect and local education authority; Historic interest:

* as a primary school by Johns, Slater and Haward whose educational buildings provide a snapshot of the evolution of primary school design from 1947 to the 1970s. Birkin Haward became known as one of the foremost post-war regional architects, and has two listed buildings to his name; * the collaboration between architects and educationalists successfully provided a planning solution to the pedagogical philosophy of the day, clearly demonstrating the aspirations of a progressive educational authority.

History

School building was both a symbolic aspiration of post-war Britain and an urgent need, driven by the ‘baby boom’, the raising of the school leaving age, planned new towns and estates and the reconstruction of bomb-damaged buildings. Programmes of new schools were coordinated and designed by local education authorities with loans and oversight from central government. Demand was led by prefabricated ‘kits of parts’, either sponsored by public authorities or developed privately. Elsewhere, where bricks and bricklayers were readily available, traditional techniques were adapted to incorporate large windows and flat roofs. Collaboration between architects and educationists could result in expressive plans which facilitated patterns of learning and movement. The requirement for abundant daylight and outdoor access led to dispersed layouts, a trend which was countered by tight cost limits and constrained sites. In the best examples child-scaled proportions, landscaping, bright colour schemes or works of art combined to create a distinctive visual aesthetic. The 1944 Education Act divided schooling into primary and secondary stages with a break at age 11. Some authorities provided separate infant and junior schools with a break at age 7 plus; others, primary schools for the 5-11 age range. School sizes likewise varied from two-class village schools to primaries of 480 pupils. Informal, ‘child-centred’ learning through first-hand experience, advocated in the influential Plowden report of 1967, was encouraged by the provision of special areas for quiet and messy work and more open layouts.

Before the First World War, the County Borough of Ipswich commissioned a number of schools from the architects Eade and Johns, a local practice that in 1921 became Johns and Slater after Edwin Thomas Johns took his nephew, Martin Johns Slater, into partnership. Johns was subsequently appointed Surveyor to the Ipswich Education Committee, and was responsible for the borough’s new schools as well as all alterations and repairs to the existing school stock. After the Second World War, new schools were needed to serve the towns new housing estates, so the practice hired the Ipswich-born architect Birkin Haward (1912-2002), who became a partner in 1949. Haward is recognised as an important architect and antiquarian, who in the 1930s was at the forefront of the Modern Movement in Britain as chief assistant to Erich Mendelsohn. After the firm of Mendelsohn and Chermayeff dissolved in 1937, Haward carried on working in London, including work on air-raid precautions with Berthold Lubetkin and Tecton. In 1941, Haward joined William Holford and Partners, but left in 1942 to become the national organiser of the Association of Architects, Surveyors and Technical Assistants, a new trade union. From April 1943 he served in the Royal Engineers, returning to England in November 1945. At this point Haward could have expected a successful career in London. He was ambitious, his experience and connections set him among the leading young architects of the time, and his second placing in an urban secondary school competition run in 1937 by the News Chronicle newspaper, had brought him attention in that field. But Haward had married an Ipswich art student, Muriel Wright, in 1936, and by the time of his demobilisation in January 1946 they had two sons, with a third on the way. He decided therefore to give up his promising London career in favour of settling with his family in Ipswich.

In the years 1948-1974 the firm of Johns, Slater and Haward designed 44 new primary schools and nine secondary schools, while altering or extending forty more, with most of the new work being handled by Birkin Haward. Haward's first schools were built in the post-war estates on the north side of Ipswich, and included Rushmere Hall School (1947-1949), Whitton House School (1950-1951) and Castle Hill (1949-1953). Following these, Haward built a group of schools on the much larger Chantry Estate to the south and south-west of the town. Here he experimented with timber shell roofs and cladding in his search for simple, appropriate technology at modest cost. The first school to be built from this time of experimentation was Sprites Lane Primary School, which featured a series of timber hyperbolic paraboloid roofs supported on concrete columns and with mild-steel tie rods to restrain the horizontal outward thrust. Designed in 1956, work began on site in June 1958, with the infant school completed in 1959 and the junior school in Spring 1960. The infant school was equipped with six classrooms while the junior school had eight classrooms, each designed to accommodate 240 and 320 children respectively. In the planning, corridor access was eliminated, with each school grouped around a 50 square foot assembly hall, with direct access to the classrooms which were arranged in pairs around the perimeter. Classrooms were equipped with self-contained cloakrooms and lavatory accommodation, and adjoining practical space with a sink and storage cupboard. A central kitchen linked the two schools. Concrete relief panels were incorporated in the entrance walling and externally on each classroom wall. Those on the Stonechat Road entrance wall, installed in 1964, are by Bernard Reynolds (1915-1997), a Norwich-born artist who taught sculpture at the Ipswich School of Art, while those on the school itself are abstract panels by Birkin Haward and his team. The school received a Civic Trust Award in 1960.

In 1996 a single-storey addition was added to the east side of the school to provide nursery school accommodation. In 2004 the two schools were converted to a single primary school by Suffolk County Council, with a new corridor added to link them. A new staff room was also built while extensions and alterations were carried out to the kitchen and administration areas.

Details

Former infant and junior schools, designed in 1959 by Birkin Haward of Johns, Slater and Haward for the County Borough of Ipswich. Work began on site in 1958, with the infant school completed in 1959 and the junior school in 1960. The job architect was HF Fleck, with J Earwaker and K Dowse as assistants. Minor alterations and extensions were undertaken in the later-C20 and early-C21, including conversion to a single primary school in 2004. Included in the listing are five cement relief panels and brick walls which flank the school's Stonechat Road entrance gate. Excluded from the listing are the nursery school addition of 1996 and the early-C21 link corridor and staff room.

MATERIALS: in-situ concrete columns carry laminated timber hyperbolic paraboloid roofs over classrooms and assembly halls. Infilling below is of brick, or timber-framed glazed walls with aluminium sash windows. The administrative and service areas have load-bearing brick walls and timber roofs. All the roofs are covered with bituminous felt.

PLAN: the school lies on a north-east to south-west alignment with the former infant school occupying the north-east section and the former junior school the south-east. Classrooms are grouped around the two assembly halls, set in pairs around the perimeter and linked by cloakrooms. A north-east to south-west aligned corridor addition (not of special interest) now links the two schools.

EXTERIOR: the school’s principal ranges are comprised of a pair of double-height assembly halls along with a series of single-storey classroom blocks, all with hyperbolic paraboloid roofs, while the administrative and service areas are single-storied with flat-roofs. The timber-framed glazed walls throughout the school all have aluminium sash windows. Although most of the clerestory windows to the assembly halls and classrooms have now been shaded they still retain their glazing. The school is entered on the north-west front through a glazed lobby which projects from a flat-roofed range with two flanking bays to each side. Both left-hand side bays have timber-framed glazed walls followed by a short section of brick walling with an abstract relief panel of flint, pebbles and an inscribed fish motif. To the left is a north to south aligned classroom block and to the left again, attached and projecting beyond the building line of the classroom block, is a later-C20 nursery addition with a pyramidal roof. The first bay to the right-hand side of the entrance has a horizontal rectangular window, with the different coloured brickwork here suggesting that this bay is a later addition. To the right, the second bay has a timber-framed glazed wall. Rising behind the main entrance and its flanking bays is a double-height assembly hall with timber-framed glazed walls to the upper level and clerestory windows (now shaded) in the angles of the roof. To the right again, and set behind a series of louvered and boarded doors, is the boiler house, with a brick and weatherboarded water tower with a hyperbolic paraboloid roof. Standing at the right-hand side this range, and linked to it be a recessed kitchen block, is the second double-height assembly hall, again with timber-framed glazed walls to the upper level and shaded clerestory windows in the angles of the roof. The remaining south-west, south-east and north-east sides of the school are comprised of a sequence of projecting classrooms blocks, with elevations of brick and timber-framed glazed walling, each with a single wooden door providing direct access to the outdoor areas of the school. All have clerestory windows in the angles of the roof, some of which have now been shaded. Set into the brick walling of each classroom is an abstract relief panel constructed from cement, pebble and flint.

INTERIOR: the two assembly halls form the core elements of the interior, to which all the classrooms respond. The halls and classrooms all have painted and plastered walls and boarded and varnished ceilings. Classrooms have composition block flooring, now covered with carpet, while cork flooring is used in the assembly halls. Suspended light fittings are hung from the tie rods under the hyperbolic roofs, while recessed fittings are used under flat roofs. Later-C20 fluorescent lighting has also been introduced throughout. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the entrance gates (not of special interest) on Stonechat Road are flanked on each side by brick walls into which are set five cement relief panels by Bernard Reynolds. The left-hand side wall contains the original school name plate which reads 'IPSWICH EDUCATION COMMITTEE / SPRITES LANE / JUNIOR AND INFANT SCHOOLS', while the right-hand side wall has four panels illustrated with sculpted relief figures. They depict, from left to right: parents and children; an owl (an emblem of wisdom); children signing (which bears Reynolds' signature); and a group of children.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Suffolk, (1961), 308
Booth, LG, 'The design and construction of timber hyperbolic paraboloid shell roofs in Britain: 1957 - 1975' in Construction History, , Vol. 13, (1997), 67-90
Booth, LG, 'Hyperbolic Paraboloid Timber Shell Roofs' in The Architect and Building News, , Vol. 216, (19 August 1959), 38-51
Other
Franklin, G, Harwood, E, Taylor, S, and Whitfield, M, English Heritage Research Report 33/2012, England's Schools 1962-88: A Thematic Study, pp331-338, 340-1

National Grid Reference: TM1337542943

Map

Map
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End of official listing