Hythe architect Cheney Thorpe & Morrison contributes to imaginative school design with St Augustine’s

The roof cascades from north
The roof cascades from north

A primary school shaped like a wave has opened high above the Kent seafront. At St Augustine’s School in Hythe, an aluminium roof curves down over a single-storey building and projects forwards in rounded eaves and louvres.

As well as expressing the sea, the arrangement gives every classroom a panorama of water and coastline, and the projecting eaves and louvres shade them from the sun.

The seaward face is lifted on a plinth faced in gabion baskets and filled with beach stones. The gabion wall continues the coastal theme while subtly protecting the school from break-ins.

The classrooms are linked on the north side by a wide undulating corridor. Alcoves projecting from the classrooms into the corridor can be opened up to either side by means of sliding doors.

The school has a high thermal mass to reduce temperature fluctuations and underfloor heating pipes can be switched in summer to channel cool recycled rainwater stored in underground tanks.

The £3m school was designed by local architect Cheney Thorpe & Morrison for the Archdiocese of Southwark and delivered on time and budget. It was built at a cost of £1400/m2 by GSE Construction of Ashford, with Gary Gabriel & Associates of Sevenoaks as structural engineer and Stephen Nixon & Associates of Ashford as services engineer and Banks Woods & Partners as QS.