Text: David Müller
Photos: Paul Traynor

05. Mar 2010

Giving “new” a new meaning
Alexandra Infant School in the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames/UK

In the globalised world in which we live, education is becoming increasingly more important. Foreign languages are being introduced at a very early age and science topics are enjoying more focus. In many countries around the world children spend the entire day at school. But what kind of environment are we prepared to subject the youngest pupils to on a daily basis? In dark, cramped spaces with flickering fluorescent lamps on the ceiling and small or no windows? That is what Alexandra Infant School in south west London looked like until recently. The lighting designers from Light Bureau were commissioned to create pleasant facilities for the growing number of young children. And lo and behold: using natural light and intelligent solutions what was once a series of gloomy, uninspiring rooms have been turned into a set of bright, friendly and motivating classrooms.

Alexandra Infant School is a small, single-storey school building in Surrey, on the doorstep of Greater Lon-don. The school, which is attended by children of preschool and early primary school age, dates back to the 1970’s. There are currently around 300 children aged between four and seven attending Alexandra Infant School. The teachers place great importance on close collaboration with the children’s families. This includes weekly meetings, an annual pantomime and a number of school parties. Parents play a key part of the school structure as class representatives arranging fundraising events, fairs and standing as parent-governors. Some of the pupils at Alexandra Infant School require remedial tuition or special attention, and many of the children come from different migrant backgrounds. The head teacher and her staff are interested in encouraging children from different denominations and backgrounds to learn and pursue a wide range of activities together in order to promote integration. To encourage the children to become pro-active with respect to environmental protection the school regularly appoints monitors whose duty it is to make sure that the lights, heating and taps are not left on.

Since there are few other schools in the near vicinity and the number of children of school age is rising, additional classrooms have already been added to the Alexandra Infant School building. In a further stage of ‘expansion’ interior architect Rosalind Jones was commissioned to create new rooms in the existing structure so the school can accommodate more pupils. The lighting for these “new” rooms was designed by Paul Traynor assisted by Klara Dunkel from Light Bureau in London. […]

The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 70.

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