Southwark SILS 3 by Tim Ronalds Architects


Southwark Inclusive Learning Service Key Stage 3 (SILS 3) is a Pupil Guidance Unit (PRU) in Peckham, South London. It educates children aged 11 to 14 who have been excluded from school, with the aim of reintegrating them into mainstream schools. The school has a capacity of 60 students and a teacher-student ratio of one to four.

The building was constructed over the existing PRU playground, which was demolished when the new building was completed. There was barely a meter apart between the two buildings. Our goal was to provide a safe, calm and helpful educational environment. The building needed to be sturdy and secure, without looking rough and defensive, as such places sometimes do. We wanted it to be warm, cheerful and upbeat on the outside and inside.

Outside, the building is made of very light, almost white masonry, with large white-framed windows. It has the feel of a Mediterranean villa. Inside there are wooden floors and ceilings and maple carpentry. Durable and beautiful materials, used inside and out, resist abuse and vandalism. Every aspect of the building has been planned and designed to help children and staff learn and socialize peacefully.
Tim Ronalds, Principal, Tim Ronalds Architects

Project data

Start on site February 2019
Completion April 2021
Gross interior floor area 1800m²
Building cost £8.5m
Construction cost per m2 £4,700
Architect Tim Ronalds Architects
Customer Southwark Council
structural engineer Waterman Structures
M&E consultant Waterman Building Services
QS Faithful + Gould
Project Manager Faithful + Gould
lead designer Tim Ronalds Architects
Certified building inspector Southwark building control
Main contractor Gibert-Ash
Civil engineer Waterman Structures
CAD software used relive
annual CO2 emissions Unavailable


The exterior was designed to feel light and cheerful. The windows, a key part of the entertainment, are steel, with expressive aluminum frames, extra thick tempered and laminated fixed panes, and ventilation panels that can be left open without compromising safety. The windows were installed first and the masonry after, to avoid the misery of large putty joints. Generous floor-to-ceiling heights lend a calming feel to the interior, and the parapet is tall enough to allow easy maintenance of roof-mounted equipment and outlets. To reduce visual clutter, the parapet has open weave masonry, clamped in a post-tensioned frame, which has been simulated and tested for wind load on site.

Materials and systems have been selected to minimize maintenance. Sophisticated ventilation systems, computer-controlled lighting, unnecessary moving parts have all been avoided. The doors are solid maple, framed with tenons and mortises. A good acoustic environment was vital and the wooden ceilings were specially designed to avoid the usual problems with the robustness of acoustic materials. Different plasterboard products and combinations were tested on site with a 6lb hammer, under the watchful eye of the school principal and her assistant. In all of this, however, we have endeavored to create as welcoming, well-lit and warm an atmosphere inside the building as possible.
Adam Goodfellow, Project Architect, Tim Ronalds Architects

Selected products

PT45 Wheat
Exterior walls

Windows and doors

Interior liners
Securetex, DB
Interior walls

Passive ventilation with heat recovery
Windy C
Roof, rooms


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