Gwendolen Nursery School

Gwendolen House Nursery School

Described by OFSTED as 'Outstanding', Gwendolen House Nursery School is run by a private limited company and operates from a converted house in Putney, London. The nursery is attended by children from ages three months to pre-school and is open throughout the year.

An important and very special part of the school is the garden which has been developed over the years to provide a wide range of trees, plants and domestic pets including chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs. There is extensive climbing and other play equipment, as well as marked out games areas. All children have access to the garden however it was found that this area was not as well used during the winter months. The installation of an outdoor playroom designed and installed by Rooms Outdoor solved this problem and has enhanced the year-round educational experience of the children.

The design brief from the nursery was to provide a safe and secure indoor/outdoor playroom with high levels of natural daylight, sympathetic to, and in keeping with, the general residential surroundings. Solid environmental credentials to meet with high standards of sustainability and energy efficiency were also key to future-proofing this new development.

Structurally, the new outdoor room has a timber frame with high levels of insulation which minimises energy consumption and ensures that the building can be used year- round and in all temperatures. The building is clad in responsibly-sourced Western Red Cedar. This is complemented by the 'green roof' which not only assists in aiding insulation and helps in generally lowering urban temperatures, but also creates a fascinating habitat for wildlife to the delight of the children.

The room is accessed safely via folding and sliding doors onto the decked area. Disabled access is also possible as this is a step free area. The decking provides the children with their very own stage for both impromptu make-believe and more formal shows and presentations. It also allows children to choose activities and move freely between indoor and outdoor in line with the aims of the Early Years Curriculum.

Inside, the Nursery took the opportunity to specify state-of-the-art technology, using Rooms Outdoor's expertise and experience to provide the infrastructure to install a projector, flat screen TV and inbuilt surround sound. On a practical level the room is completely self-contained with no need to return to the main building for kitchen or washroom facilities. With a view to cost-efficiency Rooms Outdoor were able to ensure that a number of services including fire detection, CCTV and security alarm were extended from the main building.

Critical to the project was the ability of the Nursery to remain open throughout the work, guarantee the children's safety and avoid the need for staff to be distracted by the project. Rooms Outdoor undertook the work to obtain local authority planning permission and due to the construction methods used and the off-site preparation of the outdoor room, the Nursery was able to stay fully operational with an absolute minimum of disruption. All Building Regulations inspections were quickly and smoothly carried out and approved by the Local Authority with Rooms Outdoor managing the process.

The outdoor room has now been successfully in use since 2009 and has proved to be both a practical and enjoyable addition for both staff and children at Gwendolen House.