Archbishop opens spectacular new eco-friendly primary school

£7 million Larmenier & Sacred Heart features solar panels and sedum roof

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The spectacular new £7 million Larmenier & Sacred Heart Primary School, has been officially opened with a Mass of Dedication led by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.

The strikingly modern building, in Brook Green, features solar panels and a roof covered with an Alpine plant called sedum, which keeps the school warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The panels on the roof will generate ten per cent
of the school's power. The design has also allowed for the preservation of two 120 year-old plane trees on the site.

Other features include light-sensitive dimming controls on the light fittings, awnings outside the classroom windows, which automatically retract when the wind picks up, and lockers for all junior pupils.

A spacious new main hall with a stage as well as a library, art and music rooms have also been incorporated into the new building, which has proved a big hit with pupils and staff since they moved there in March. The modern, spacious classrooms are all equipped with electronic whiteboards to display lesson materials and teachers can control the temperature in each room themselves.

Quiet spaces, or 'pods', have been created in the corridors for reading, artwork and work in small groups.

The building, designed by Studio E Architects, has a spiral design, calculated on the Fibonacci golden mean, which helps to demonstrate the mathematics of nature to children at the school.

The pupils were encouraged to contribute to their new school building by designing a print for the entrance canopy and awnings of the new building. The resulting leaf design was inspired by the presence of the trees in the school grounds, and enhances a teaching environment that has been designed to blur the boundaries between inside and outside, with maximum direct access from classrooms to external landscaped learning areas.

To celebrate the opening of the new building, parent and professional sculptor Isabel Langtry, who worked on the leaf design with pupils for the canopy and awnings, has also created a 2-metre bronze tree-like sculpture called Tres (Spanish for three) at the entrance to the school, which is symbolic of the Holy Trinity. It also refers to the school's close links with neighbouring Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Other artworks have been created in the school and its grounds
by Isabel in collaboration with pupils who attend the after-school art club.

The school, formed from the merger of Larmenier RC Infants and Sacred Heart Catholic Junior in 2002, has been rebuilt on the site of the old junior school and brings together the infant and junior sites for the first time.

The project was managed by school governors in partnership with the Catholic Diocese of Westminster and H&F Council. Governors have raised more than £400,000 towards the £7 million cost of the building, with the help of fund raising activities by parents.

Pupil Cameron Steel, 10, said, "It's lovely. We've got a giant playground and our own lockers."
Parent Enzo Maletta, who has two children at Larmenier & Sacred Heart Primary, said, "They were up at 6am for their first day at the new school. They couldn't wait to get in."

The Cardinal said, "I am delighted to be at Larmenier and Sacred Heart Primary School to bless the new school building. The children have had the great privilege of being involved in its design and are very blessed to be in such a lovely new building which puts a particular emphasis on the environment and the safeguarding of the earth's resources. I pray that their years here will be very happy ones, and may all connected to this new project give thanks to God for this marvellous achievement."

Sister Hannah Maria Dwyer, headteacher, said, "Pupils, staff and parents all love the new building. It is an absolute joy to teach and learn here."

Bernard Burke, the school's chair of governors, was presented with a papal medal by the Cardinal for his dedicated service to Larmenier & Sacred Heart. He said, "The new building is spectacular and is an inspirational environment in which to learn, with a layout and facilities which are much better tailored to the needs of the children.

The pupils have been magnificent throughout the whole realisation of the new building and there are no words to describe Sister Hannah's commitment and dedication to this school."

Parents, governors, supporters of the school and former parish priests all attended the dedication ceremony as well as representatives from the two trustees of the school, The Diocese of Westminster and the Sisters of Nazareth, who were involved in enabling the new school to be built.

June 22, 2007