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Newlands School in Peckham is designed to support and educate up to 70 boys between 11 and 16 years of age with social, behavioural and emotional special needs.  The school is notable for its innovative approach to the social and educational agenda. 

Rejecting an outdated educational framework and mentality, the spaces and teaching ethos cultivate a reassuringly stable and nurturing physical environment through a legible courtyard plan and dignified civic presence on the street.

Newlands sits snugly within a set of existing school conversions near Nunhead Cemetery.  Mature trees and a handsome brick wall with railings line its perimeter.  Classrooms are arranged off a broad internal street that runs from the entrance to the playing fields, cultivating a sense of openness, transparency and spatial flow.  Without feeling heavy-handed, the plan also allows for discreet passive monitoring, with internal windows and vision panels.

Facilities include a well-equipped design technology workshop on the first floor with its own terrace, and an extensive performing arts studio and adjoining courtyard auditorium, as drama, literacy and confidence-building are central to Newlands’ curriculum.

Wright & Wright's analysis of the brief developed into a clear vision which informed the organisational layout of the scheme and responded exceptionally well to the site. 

They were very attentive to the input of the client and the school which made it a really good working process within the wider team. Through effective listening combined with passion, excellent design skill and solid technical abilities, Wright& Wright have delivered a school which is indeed unique and able to transform young lives.

John Ryan
Regeneration Dept, London Borough of Southwark

Despite its modest budget, the building has a generosity of spirit and a formal and material finesse that draws on the humane Scandinavian Modernism of Alvar Aalto and Sigurd Lewerentz to belie its challenging programme.  Constructed with a satisfying solidity almost entirely from yellow brick and bronzed steel, with concrete floors left as exposed ceilings in classrooms, its aptness is instructive and self-evident; architecture as a place of healing and learning, rooted in the society it serves.

Site plan of Newlands School, Wright & Wright


  • British Construction Industry Award Building of the Year Award (£3m-£50m) 2013
  • Education Business Awards – School Building of the Year 2013