CREATING A CONNECTION TO NATURE AT BRENTFORD SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
Brentford School for Girls has embarked on a phased programme of refurbishment, which began in April 2022 and will continue throughout the summer of 2023. The school wanted to ensure that their students not only achieved academically but also thrived emotionally.
The school appreciates that many factors contribute to that sense of calm and the school wellbeing, not least the interior spaces. As a result of this, the school appointed local interior designer, Jacqueline Douglas, to lead this exciting design project and, having discussed the project with students, staff and governors, Jacqueline’s objectives became clear:
- Create vibrant interior spaces
- Incorporate visual cues which reinforce core values of pride in the school, strong relationships, the school-being, and bold aspirations
- Create schemes which add personality.
The school is also keen to mirror themes within the ‘Vision of The Brentford Girl’ focusing on the importance of sustainable living both locally and globally. Part of the design brief was to boost references to nature within the building. As a result, Jacqueline’s designs focused heavily on the benefits of biophilia.
Biophilia can be defined as the human biological desire to connect with nature; this connection can be made via the addition of plants, natural materials, nature-based cloth palettes, and the use of natural light. Biophilic design has been proven to reduce stress, improve cognitive function and creativity and improve a sense of the school-being.The first phase of the project included refurbishing the Year 11 Base, a common room exclusively for the year group which allows them an independent space to relax, eat and socialise, key to their school well-being in a key year. Overall, the Year 11 Base design focused on:
- Styling the space: making rooms feel ‘designed’ and with the school coming ambience, so that the overall environment encourages a relaxing mood
- Decoration: adding bursts of colours to energise the space, focusing on colours found in nature
- Introduction of plants: purchased new, robust, and comfortable furniture that set the tone and allows students to leave the classroom environment and enter a vibrant, social space
- Stanced commercial standard furniture that was pre-used, this included a fabulous modular seating system that the school got for a fraction of the original price. Sold to them by a charity supporting young people.
Throughout this project the school was always conscious of maximising the school budget, whilst trying to work sustainably and supporting the circular economy:
- Sustainable, positive impact companies where possible
- Employ local trades, such as the joinery company, Wood Suite Furniture maker, located on Windmill Road, who supplied amazing seating. Another local supplier the school used was Studio Flox, a Brentford based upholstery small business at Watermans Park that revamped old seating so that the school didn’t have to purchase new ones
- Maintaining the investments: covering furniture with fabric throws that can be easily cleaned, reducing the need to purchase new furniture
- Moving furniture to different year groups to extend its life or donating unwanted furniture to a local charity, i.e., Hounslow based community hub: The Loft.
The end result has been received really positively by the students and school staff, who are looking forward to the roll out of future amazing refurbished spaces!