Hugh Broughton Architects

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Thomas's Clapham Library

Playful refurbishment of a school library

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Clapham, London, England


2013 - 2014


Thomas's London Day Schools

HBA Team

Hugh Broughton, Owen Pearce, Lachlan Seegers


Ian Fellingham Associates
(Services Engineer)
GB Fitzsimon (Cost Consultant)


FERFA Awards 2015 - Small Project of the Year


Carlos Dominguez

Hugh Broughton Architects has completed the refurbishment of the library at Thomas’s London Day School, a family-run private preparatory school in Clapham, south west London.

The refurbished library is a dynamic and playful space designed to capture the imagination of pupils, teachers and parents. The light-filled white cocooned room is filled with colour, bespoke soft furnishings and a range of reading zones to promote learning, and to nurture and stimulate the imagination of pupils, staff and parents for many years to come.

The scheme brings character and joy back into this vital learning space to stimulate learning and replaces an unwelcoming dark compressed space which was cluttered with desks, chairs and disparate items of furniture.

The design was informed by discussions with teachers and pupils at an early stage in the design process. The client’s principle ambition was to transform the existing facility into a state of the art, light-filled contemporary children’s library with inherent flexibility to respond to the needs of both current and future staff and pupils.

Situated on the ground floor of the school’s Grade 2 listed Victorian building the bright white space has been achieved through a combination of white walls, white vaulted ceilings and new contemporary downlights. The space is characterised by a map of Narnia, the fictitious land in C.S. Lewis’s children’s classic, illustrated across the full width of the resin floor. This enchanting motif introduces an element of fantasy to captivate young readers.

Other design features include a royal blue alcove with curving steps, which makes a grand setting for storytelling, and oversized circular upholstered seats in bright pink and royal blue.

Upholstered seating

Upholstered seating

The desk for the librarian is constructed from 875 books set within a frame made of Hi-Macs. Low-level mobile units on rollers encourage pupils to rummage through the collection of books. Quotes above bookshelves provide inspiration and direct young readers to classic authors. The existing window reveals were clad with joinery incorporating bookcases and a free-flowing, organic seating feature that forms a series of wonderfully over scaled perches for children to sit and read beneath the natural light flooding in from the south. The joinery is set against a yellow backdrop to reflect natural daylight and colour deep into the space.