Due to high demand, as well as the need for the provision of a modern facility which would serve the school as well as the community, the management of St. Thomas More Catholic School in Eltham commissioned Martin Arnold to provide revised design proposals for a new built block to accommodate up to 150 pupils in addition to the existing building which currently accommodates 620 pupils.

The school’s existing main building – originally built in 1964 – is set back from the main road providing arrival space, car parking and a green area with a number of trees – many of which are mature. The building is of 3-storeys height, has flat roofs and is ‘L’ shape in plan featuring large horizontal white framed windows and mainly buff brick as the external cladding material.

The requirements for the new facility in terms of use and amount have been designed in conjunction with accommodation contained within the existing school building and checked against Building Bulleting 98 and includes: 3no. of standard classrooms, science classroom, DT / Art space, multi – function activity space, learning resources area and staff room.

The site layout’s arrangement has been influenced by number of factors including existing site access, required alternative access to the building (in order to accommodate out of school hours and weekend use by the local community while maintaining independent access from the existing school building), location of the existing vegetation and existing site topography.

The key principles behind the new building’s layout includes a centrally located Multi-Function Activity Space, minimised circulation allowing alternative means of escape, incorporation of courtyard between the existing Maths Block and the new building, and the location of classrooms away from Footscray Road which was considered to be the main source of noise and pollution.

  • Client

    St Thomas More Catholic Comprehensive School

  • Contractor


  • Contract Value


  • Duration

    12 months

  • Address

    Footscray Road, London SE9 5BN

The scale of the new building relates to the scale of the wider, predominantly 2 storeys context. The main part of the building is 2-storeys high and steps down to one storey along the southern boundary to avoid overlooking (and potential) overshadowing issues with a neighbouring residential care home as well as to allow southern sunlight to the courtyard between the proposed building and the existing Maths Block.

The existing vegetation is a very significant feature within the new building site, the existing School setting and within the wider context of Eltham. The landscaping consists of new hard surfaces for pedestrian links and existing soft landscaping which is to remain in its current form with some of the less relevant trees to be removed. Two mature trees to the east of the proposed building, along with several other smaller tress fronting Footscray Road, are to remain to provide shading and a natural sound buffer as well as visual screening.

Green roofs to both the single and double storey elements were designed to merge the new building with the existing vegetation, to minimise rainwater run-off, and to improve the building’s thermal performance and microclimate.

The key principles behind the appearance of the building are the raised north-east corner of the building to display School logo on School’s burgundy colour, light grey cladding colour on the ‘outer side’ (east and south) and dark grey colour on ‘inner side’ (west and north) of the building to create contrasting appearance within the courtyard, main entrance with large, glazed panels to be clearly identifiable, and rain screen cladding throughout with brick base areas.

Added value

  • New ‘face’ of the School
  • Improved space and capacity
  • Multi-Function Activity Space available for the local community use Sustainable design

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