The Charter School

The Charter School

The Charter School has been transformed from its original 1950s buildings into an exemplary modern learning environment for 1,200 pupils including a sixth form. The phased programme began with the creation of a new entrance foyer, formed by opening up an existing block and roofing over a courtyard.

  • The Charter School 1
  • The Charter School 2

Designed to be the dynamic heart of the school, this space features a sculptural, tree-like structure that supports its partially glazed roof. The roof was designed to harvest both solar energy and rainwater – a manifestation of the school’s commitment to a sustainable future. From the entrance foyer, newly glazed routes lead to the school hall, dining block, library, sports hall and teaching spaces.

  • The Charter School 1
  • The Charter School 2
  • The Charter School 1

As part of a strategy to minimise energy and conserve resources, the main four-storey teaching block was stripped back to its frame and rebuilt with new multicoloured cladding to enliven the façade. Night-time ventilation combined with thermal mass helps stabilise internal temperatures. CO2 sensors linked to external air vents and the use of finishes with very low toxicity ensure good air quality in teaching spaces. Extensive green roofs improve the biodiversity of the site and exploit natural cooling techniques. The partially glazed new roof over an existing courtyard is used as a collector of solar energy and rainwater for recycling.

  • The Charter School 1
  • The Charter School 1


  • Civic Trust Award - Merchants' Academy: Commendation
  • RIBA Award - Merchants' Academy: Winner
  • Aluminium Imagination Architectural Award - Great Notley Discovery Centre: Commendation
  • FX International Design Award - Charter School: Finalist
  • London Borough of Southwark
Size m2
Completion Date
Structural Engineer
  • Babtie
M&E Engineer
  • SBDS
Landscape Architect
  • Watkins Dally