Eastfield Primary School
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
- Statutory Address:
- Eastfield Primary School, Eastfield Road, Thurmaston, Leicester, LE4 8FP
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- Statutory Address:
- Eastfield Primary School, Eastfield Road, Thurmaston, Leicester, LE4 8FP
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Charnwood (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
Primary School built 1966-1968 to the designs of Ahrends, Burton and Koralek. A square extension was added to the east side in 2002, this is not included in the listing.
Reasons for Designation
Eastfield Primary School, built 1966-1968 to the designs of Ahrends, Burton and Koralek (ABK), is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* it has a progressive design which moves away from the notion of the class as a self-contained unit, instead creating a flexible, largely open plan school which breaks down the traditional compartmentalism; * it cleverly makes use of the sloping site to separate the classrooms from the noise of the hall and kitchen, and provides a progression through large communal spaces to small private and child-scale spaces in a form that encourages the use of the entire school by all children, particularly the library which was now regarded as the central element in the plan; * it is a significant early work by ABK, a major British practice of international importance with numerous listed buildings to their name, which demonstrates their use of beautifully refined detailing of brick, timber, glass and steel which became a model for their later work.
* 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.
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. At Buckinghamshire and Hampshire a mix of enclosed class bases and shared space was provided, allowing teachers to strike their own balance between varied groups and activities and traditional whole-class teaching.
Leicestershire was a pioneer in the design of educational buildings as a result of the renowned Leicestershire Plan which was devised in 1957 by Stewart Mason, Director of Education 1947-1971. Its advanced approach to teaching, together with government cost restrictions which made corridors too expensive, had an effect on design. There was a move away from self-contained classes to mixing across groups, encouraging use of the entire school by all the children. Flexible and centralized planning was first applied to primary schools, with open teaching areas grouped round a central library, quiet study room, and assembly area, sometimes on a circular plan or in the form of pavilions around the central core.
Eastfield Primary School was built 1966-1968 to the designs of Peter Ahrends, Richard Burton and Paul Koralek. The architects formed a partnership in 1961 after winning first prize in the competition for Trinity College Library Dublin. Their subsequent projects include Chichester Theological College (1965), Maidenhead Central Library (1972), both listed at Grade II, and new buildings for Keble College, Oxford (1976) which are listed at Grade II*. The County Education Committee’s brief allowed the architects considerable flexibility in interpretation. They were asked to design a two-form entry Junior School for 360 places to be built in two stages. Phase 1 consisted of four classrooms, multi-purpose hall, kitchen and administrative accommodation. A further two classrooms and the library were added later. The architects described their conception of the school as a compact complex of linked spaces, largely open plan and of varying scale ranging from small quiet rooms to the main hall, designed to give the maximum variety and flexibility in use. The school was completed in January 1968 at a cost of £71, 500, and immediately on opening it was adapted from two-form 7 to 11 entry to one-form 5 to 11 entry.
The school has undergone some alterations since it first opened. The main door to the school and a door giving access to the internal courtyard have been replaced, as have the windows to the reception and Headteacher’s office in the south-west corner of the building. A lift has been installed in the hall, and suspended ceilings have been fitted in the hall and most of the classrooms (leaving the original ceilings intact). A lean-to shelter has been added to the south end of the east elevation, and a square extension was added to the east side of the school in 2002. In 2006 a wet room and cloakroom was added to the east end of the south elevation.
Primary School built 1966-68 to the designs of Ahrends, Burton and Koralek.
MATERIALS: the building has a steel frame faced in white brick laid in stretcher bond, and the roof has a felt covering.
PLAN: the plan revolves around different levels, due to the steep site. It comprises a compact rectangle with a central open courtyard around which an ambulatory separates activity areas from the main classrooms. These are grouped in pairs on the north and east sides. The library is on the west side by the higher and most important of the two entrances, and the hall is on the south side. The fall of the site has been used to enable offices and an entrance hall on the west side to be located over the kitchen and caretaker’s accommodation.
The single-storey, early-C21 extensions adjoining the east and south sides, which are brick-built and flat-roofed, are excluded from the listing. The lean-to, added in the early C21 against the south end of the east side of the school, is not depicted on the current Ordnance Survey map (2018) but is also excluded from the listing.
EXTERIOR: the fall of the site has resulted in the building having many changes of levels. The main access is on the west side into the upper level of the two-storey block, whilst the rest of the building is generally single-storey. The principal entrance door is a replacement. The walls have a low brick plinth with the upper part fitted with aluminium-framed patent glazing angled inwards towards the top-lighting which builds up to its greatest height over the courtyard. This gives the glazing over the classrooms a canted form. The shared space in between each pair of classrooms has a higher brick wall with a mono-pitch glazed roof. Between the two pairs of classrooms along the east side, the central covered work space is under a higher canted glazed roof and has a retaining wall and screen to provide some protection from the elements. On the south side, the hall is accessed via two pairs of adjoining double-leaf glazed doors which have wide softwood frames and a wooden band along the bottom. To the left of these, a slightly projecting PE store has a blind wall, as does the small lavatory block to the left of this.
INTERIOR: from the main entrance into the upper level of the two-storey block, steps go down to the main floor, from where two routes lead past common shared spaces – the hall, library and internal courtyard – to the class teaching spaces grouped around two sides of the courtyard. The door into the courtyard is a replacement. The class spaces open onto a shared practical space equipped with sinks and work benches, and are connected by sliding/ folding doors to a quiet room which is shared with the adjacent classroom. Each class space has access either directly to the surrounding paving or to the central courtyard for outdoor working space.
The interior is mostly partitioned by brick walls faced in white sandlime bricks that stop short of the roof. The staircases are of reinforced concrete, and floor finishes are of vinyl tiles, woodblock and quarry tiles. The hall and most of the classrooms have suspended ceilings, although the original ceilings remain.
Books and journals
Architectural Monographs: Ahrends Burton and Koralek, (1991)
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland, (2003)
Powell, Kenneth, Ahrends, Burton and Koralek, (2012)
Eastfield County Primary School, Architectural Monographs no. 15 (1991)
Eastfield County Primary School, The Architects’ Journal (29 October 1969), pp. 181-192
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
The listed building is 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.
End of official listing