Educational Copper


Nordic Brown pre-oxidised copper from Aurubis forms part of the restrained palette of natural materials defining the new St John’s Primary School, Ealing, London, designed by Conran and Partners with detailed design by executive architects Gibberd.

Conran and Partners’ idea for a new school grew out of their proposals for the ongoing regeneration of Green Man Lane estate – a phased £150 million project, transforming a failing housing estate and delivering over 700 new homes. The original school, founded in the late 19th century, had been operating from inefficient and outdated buildings dating from the 1970s. With an exchange of land, the existing school could remain operational while a new one was constructed. 

Strong Street Form

Configured as a three-storey structure, with a rooftop area providing a welcoming space for children to interact, the new school building represents a significant increase in internal area, raising potential pupil capacity from 420 to 630. It sits along the site boundary edge, creating a strong street form and conveying a mature learning environment while giving the school its own distinct identity.

The entrance is demarcated by a floating, oblique form, clad in Nordic Brown copper with defined vertical seams. It sits at the junction of street and internal building elements, and acts as the primary metal component informing the design detail throughout. A glazed corner provides transparency and signifies both the main school entrance and the circulation axis through the building. The strong vertical emphasis of the street elevation will set the school apart from the proposed neighbouring residential components of the development.

Natural Materials

A restrained selection of natural materials has been selected throughout the new school – from weathered buff brick to the Nordic Brown pre-oxidised copper – to reinforce the design narratives. These materials provide robustness and warmth, while blending seamlessly with the material palette of the wider masterplan for Green Man Lane estate.

Photo: courtesy of Conran and Partners

Main image and photo below: Luke Hayes

Nordic Copper Surfaces and Alloys

Nordic Brown products are pre-oxidised at Aurubis’ mill to give straightaway the same oxidised brown surface that otherwise develops over time in the environment. The thickness of the oxide layer determines the colour – either Nordic Brown Light or the darker Nordic Brown – and the darkening oxidisation process continues in the natural environment.

A wide choice of Nordic Décor mechanically applied surface treatments is also available.

Other Nordic Copper surfaces include Nordic Standard ‘mill finish’. Nordic Green and Nordic Blue are factory-applied patinas developed with properties and colours based on the same brochantite mineralogy found in natural patinas all over the world. Essentially, they enable designers to determine both the colour and intensity of patina for each project with ‘living’ surfaces: as well as a solid patina colour, other intensities can be created revealing some of the dark oxidised background material. Aurubis copper alloys include Nordic Brass – also available pre-weathered – Nordic Bronze and the innovative Nordic Royal with a long-lasting golden colour.