A woodland classroom by Studio Weave

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Studio Weave is a London-based RIBA Chartered Architecture Practice. They consist of a wide-ranging team of collaborators. The architects and designers who work at Studio Weave, or the “Weavers” as they are dubbed, are a fairly youthful lot, which is something that materialises in their projects in a playful, idiosyncratic energy. The studio’s portfolio is a mixture of public and private buildings, temporary structures, and consulting work that focuses on the improvement of public spaces.

The Belvue School is one lovely example of the sensitivity the architects bring to their projects. The school asked Studio Weave for advice on its redevelopment, but also commissioned a new building. Belvue School is a secondary school for young people between the ages of 11 and 19 who have learning difficulties. This brand new building was placed adjacent to a recently acquired piece of woodland. It was envisioned as a special space, away from the standard classrooms. Part of it serves as a student-run cafe and dining room, and the other section as a casual classroom space. A calm retreat during the busy school day, but also a place to learn more about the nearby woods. Studio Weave’s design process involved holding narrative storytelling and drawing workshops with the students to explore potential relationships to the magical woodland.

The classroom is designed to convey a domestic feel. Its interior is warm and wooden. The exaggerated shape of the roof invites the visitor to enter at its lower point, building intimacy, before sweeping up in the centre of the space. The dramatic curve looks unique, but also provides adequate ventilation. Sliding doors open up on either side of the middle section of the building, creating a passageway through it, from the school grounds to the woods. In this way, the classroom acts as a gateway to new discoveries and magic of surrounding flora.