Michael Faraday School: a lesson in regeneration

Cartlidge Levene is behind a new wayfinding system for a regenerated school in Southwark in London. The work includes a series of visual ‘shopfronts’ to each of the classrooms and a range of playful signage

Cartlidge Levene is behind a new wayfinding system for a regenerated school in Southwark in London. The work includes a series of visual ‘shopfronts’ to each of the classrooms and a range of playful signage…

The Michael Faraday Community School in Southwark (the chemist and physicist was born in what is now part of the London borough in 1791) was developed by architectural firm, Archial.

The primary school is one of the first to be transformed as part of the Southwark Schools for the Future programme. It accommodates a primary school, nursery, adult education and community facilities, and an after-school play group.

The structure of the build is based on a ‘circular footprint’ with a flexible learning space, called the Living Room, in the centre. Classrooms for year groups one to six are arranged around the perimeter and are connected by the central communal space. The Living Room features a bright yellow, double height wall which encloses both the Studio and Roof Garden teaching spaces.

Cartlidge Levene was briefed to develop a wayfinding system that would engage the children, engendering a feeling of pride in their school, and that integrated with the architecture. Ultimately, say the studio, the visual language aims to provide a new graphic identity for the school and work alongside the Faraday logotype that is mounted above the main entrance.

Also of note are the year group classrooms that form a continuous row of ‘shopfronts’ around the circular space over two levels. Differently coloured flag-signs fold out from these shopfronts to identify each year group. The studio also devised methods of displaying the children’s work to provide an ordered but flexible system that could be easily operated by the teachers. The signage takes advantage of the intuitive building arrangement with, according to the studio, good sight-lines across the central, circular space. Furthermore, playful, 3D arrows are used to sign the ‘Studio’ and ‘Roof Garden’ teaching spaces and supporting facilities.

The use of terminology such as Roof Garden and Living Room (for the teaching spaces) and even ‘Ballroom’ (for the external pavilion that houses sports and dining facilities) was developed, say the studio, to create “a fun nomenclature that the children can relate to”. The Ballroom sign is integrated into the building’s cladding, along with a layer of decorative pattern and, in the toilet blocks a ‘paper chain’ of male and female toilet icons has been applied to the doors.

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Fushi Wellbeing

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Monddi Design Agency