Finton House School in Tooting goes underground to expand without losing play space
A school has dug deep and come up with an innovative way to expand without taking valuable playground space - going underground.
Finton House School, Trinity Road, Tooting has just opened The Emma Thornton Building, created completely underground.
It was named after a former headmistress and school governor who died of cancer in 2011.
Lucy Wheeler, registrar and marketing manager, said: "It has been decided to go under the playground to maximise the amount of space for children at the school in terms of classroom sizes and not take away any playground space.
"We had to do some very careful investigations to make sure the water table would not be affected.
"Whilst the building development has allowed to make more space, there will be no increase of pupils."
It fell to architects Dinwiddie MacLaren to find a solution by creating specialist classrooms 85 per cent below ground level.
The new building features a glass-lined stairwell decorated with trees, which directs natural light into classrooms.
It took a year to build the 400sqm teaching space, which houses a total of 320 pupils aged four to 11-years-old.
The £3,000 a term private school was expanded by an additional 400sqm to include new science, design and technology and music classrooms.
A spokesman for Dinwiddie MacLaren said: "The building was created in response to the desperate need for extra space within a tight urban site in south London.
"The key to the success of this building below ground was to create an illusion of being at ground level.
"The light-filled stairwell is lined on all sides with frameless glass with a bespoke digital design inspired by the surrounding lime trees."
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