The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Click to see full size. Photo © English Heritage
Early days. Photo © English Heritage
Mural. Photo © English Heritage

100 Buildings 100 Years

1950: Templewood Primary School, Welwyn Garden City

Status: Listed Grade II*
Type: Education
Architect: Hertfordshire County Council
Location: Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Templewood belongs to the little crop of Hertfordshire’s post-war primary schools built at the precious moment when the experiment of prefabricating buildings in series was still fresh but had gone far enough to produce architecture of real cleverness, sensitivity and flexibility. Far from the ponderous rigidity of later prefabrication, Templewood represents an instrument for child-centred education which is delicate and miraculously timeless. Low yet light and serene shared spaces, standard square classrooms planned in staggered order so as to give them light from two sides, and charming works of art – all part of the humane Hertfordshire package – combine with a bosky garden-city site to make this the best of these schools today.

The job-architect for Templewood was Cleeve Barr, who had given up banking and become a communist and architect because he wanted to do something useful. He had flown Caravelles to Russia during the war, and it is not by chance that Russian fairy tales are the topic of the murals by Pat Tew, recently and admirably restored. Architect and painter would have regarded Templewood as socialism in action. As for Le Corbusier, when he visited the school he aptly remarked ‘C’est jolie’.

by Andrew Saint

Listing description

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