The Pears National Centre for Autism
The Pears National Centre for Autism Education was developed over several years with parent-founded charity, The Treehouse Trust, and is the first of its kind in the UK offering not only an 80 place school, but a national training centre and administrative workspace for the Trust which aims to increase the nationwide quantity and quality of autism education provision.
An individual curriculum is developed for each child using the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis. Penoyre & Prasad’s carefully researched design supports these techniques in a specialist environment which strikes the right balance between the familiar and the stimulating.
Teaching spaces feature simple, flexible, repetitive spaces with small workrooms, as well as life skills environments such as kitchen, bathroom and laundry. Even back of house areas such as delivery or maintenance have been designed to accommodate opportunistic learning potential for children.
The delicate balance between a life-affirming degree of sensory stimulus on the one hand, and calm on the other has remained a key issue in design. Lighting is even and temperatures constant. The centre is set back from the street on a sloping Greenfield site. Rising from a plinth of warm orange brick, the natural timber and glass-clad building has a sloping green roof.
External areas provide a variety of learning and play spaces. The building has good natural day-lighting, a high thermal mass and an assisted natural ventilation system.