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Spaces for Calm

Bow Arts & Valence Primary

About the Project

Working with 180, year 5 students (and their wonderfully unpredictable imaginations) we were excited to be commissioned by Bow Arts to co-design two mindfulness spaces in the playgrounds of Valence Primary, a two-site primary school in Chadwell Heath, East London. The structures were built over the summer and completed in early autumn of 2019.

  • 6 model making workshops
  • 2 design update assemblies
  • Design and build of 2 outdoor structures

February 2019 – September 2019

Our Tools & Approach

During the workshops, students explored 2D and 3D materials to create their perfect space for calm. With colourful overhead canopies and inventive scenes, furniture and decorations, we finished the three days with 44 models of every calming space imaginable. A wealth of ideas to use, we amalgamated the outputs to create two separate structures for each of the school’s sites on St George’s and Bonham Road.

St George’s Road
This site took inspiration from the pods and seating-pockets of the workshop models to create two custom CNC-cut arched structures. Assembled on-site, each shelter has multiwall polycarbonate windows which give varied views of the sky and surrounding tree canopy, and are clad in raw hit-and-miss batten. The decorative CNC-cut front panels used the fluid wave-like forms of the students’ initial canopy designs, and offer a sense of seclusion whilst still allowing for safeguarding.

Bonham Road
This site used traditional joinery to create decking complete with planters that extend out from a timber canopy. Within the depth of the canopy sits CNC-cut decorative panels which showcase the 2D designs and shapes of the students’ designs. The angled poles reflect the popular theme of woodland and tall forest trees that appeared in many of the models, whilst the rippling fins at the back help create a sense of calm once again using the wave motif.

The use of CNC cutting allowed for patterns taken directly from the students’ work to be incorporated directly into the finished structure, giving them ownership and authorship of a place to help them and their younger compatriots. CNC Projects kindly donating their time at a reduced rate. The Dagenham and Rainham branches of Travis Perkins also donated £200 worth of materials.