Central Foundation Boys’ School by Hawkins\Brown

Fabio Maiolin, senior architect, HawkinsBrown

Selected products 

The site suffered over the years from a significant backlog of maintenance and our work focused on addressing fabric performance issues and reducing the long-term financial burden on the school. Materials were selected with durability, sustainability and longevity in mind.

The brown-grey brick selected for the internal courtyard elevations responds to the brick of the historic buildings, while curtain walling, copper mesh and anodised aluminium was used to mark new additions to the site. Copper mesh glazed units are backed with insulation in the new Science Building but left translucent in the Chapel so you can see the movement and activity inside the building.

Sprayed acoustic finishes
Oscar Acoustics
Sonaspray K13 Special
Hall and library interior soffits

Through a decade-long partnership, we supported the school in unlocking significant financial and logistical challenges to provide 13,000m2 of much-needed upgrades to this unique site. The project was delivered through a complex funding mix from the Central Foundation Schools of London, the local education authority, the Department for Education and proceeds from the sale of a development site.



Copper mesh panels
North façades of chapel and block B

Green roofs
Block B, annex, sports hall



Architect’s choices


Acoustic panels
Troldtekt acoustic
Ceiling to chapel, sports hall
and heritage gym

Curtain wall
North façades of chapel and block B

Over the past 150 years, seven buildings (including the Tabernacle Chapel and Grade II-listed former County Court) had been brought together into one school campus around a central courtyard. The result was an ad hoc collection of spaces that were not fit for purpose, with two buildings identified as among the ‘worst educational buildings in the UK’ by the Department for Education. 

Fabio Maiolin, senior architect, HawkinsBrown

New facilities include science laboratories and a subterranean sports hall buried in the central courtyard. The Tabernacle was creatively transformed for drama, art and music. Existing buildings were refurbished where possible with new-build infills only considered where it was not possible to provide specialist learning spaces in existing structures. The school remained open and fully operational throughout all the works.
Negar Mihanyar, partner, HawkinsBrown

The project creatively responds to the existing buildings, complementing them with sensitive new interventions.

Start on site September 2017
July 2023
Gross internal floor area
Construction cost Undisclosed
Client Central Foundation Boys’ School
Structural engineer BDP
M&E consultant BDP
QS Gardiner & Theobald
Project manager Gardiner & Theobald
Principal designer Gardiner & Theobald
Approved building inspector Approved Inspector Services
Main contractor Gilbert-Ash
Acoustic consultant BDP
Landscape architect BDP
Planning consultant Montagu Evans
Fire engineer The Fire Surgery
CAD software used
Predicted design life 60 years
Embodied and/or whole-life carbon A1-A5 (excluding biogenic carbon): 455 kgCO2/m2, A-C (including biogenic carbon, excluding operational carbon): 548 kgCO2/m2 

PT450 Iron
East façade of block B and north façade
of annex


Project data


The project was delivered in numerous phases with a consistent material palette used throughout to provide legibility and coherence to the campus overall. A sensitive colour palette was adopted, with each building given a unique colour identity to aid navigation and wayfinding.


Green roofs top all the new buildings, with the space directly above the sports hall landscaped to provide amenity space. Integrated planters and seating are formed by the rooflights that bring daylight into the space below.

Targeted investments were made where they would have the most impact, with a focus on working sensitively with heritage assets. All new-build elements were designed to high fabric performance, while the refurbishment scope included specialist repairs to the glazed brick, terrazzo and stonework to revive and reinstate the character of existing spaces. Traditional conservation techniques were used alongside bold adaptations to clearly distinguish between new and old. Existing materials, such as salvaged brick, were reused on site and complemented with contemporary additions, such as copper mesh, glass and anodised aluminium fins.

Acoustic linings
Sports hall

Central Foundation Boys’ School, one of the top-performing non-selective comprehensive schools in the country, has completed a transformation of its inner-city London campus.