Eleanor Palmer Science Lab

The design of the new single-storey timber framed science classroom for Eleanor Palmer School, a primary school in North London.

The building replaces an old lean-to shelter on the school boundary wall looking out over the playground. The playground had been built up by 1.5m over the years causing damage and meaning the lean-to shelter was restraining the brick wall. This meant a fair amount of excavation of made-ground was required to form the foundations, and our new structure would need to provide restraint to the old wall.

Mass concrete kentledge foundation blocks have been installed and the wall height reduced to ensure the existing wall does not move any further. A new timber fence spanning between steel posts and bearing onto the concrete blocks replaces the demolished portion of the wall.

The superstructure is an exposed timber frame with timber columns supporting long-span glulam beams which in turn support timber roof joists.

The timber columns distribute the horizontal loads onto the primary timber beams, and the diagonal configuration of these beams results in a deep truss which laterally spans onto the stud walls at either end, which are braced with a plywood skin. The roof has been stiffened with ply decking and restraint straps to transmit the lateral loads.

Completed 2018.

Project Information


Eleanor Palmer Primary School


AY Architects




Nick Kane


Civic Trust Award, Highly Commended 2022
RIBA Award 2019
RIBA London Award 2019
Wood Award, Highly Commended, Education & Public Sector 2019