Lime Tree Primary Academy

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Lime Tree brings not only much needed additional school places for Manchester (statistics show over half of primary schools in Manchester are now over capacity), but a new way of teaching and learning that blends indoor and outdoor learning in new and exciting ways. Over half of the curriculum is delivered outdoors.

The buildings, which work with the landscape to create a physical and metaphysical forest, were largely constructed off-site out of modular components, a process that greatly reduced the amount of waste products and the time taken to complete the building.

As a ‘forest school’, Lime Tree aims to develop pupil’s self-esteem, self-confidence and independence skills by nurturing an understanding and respect for nature and the outside world. Atkins designed the building to reflect this ethos, with columns clad in tree bark, green and sky blue cladding inspired by leaves in the sunlight, and classrooms full of natural light connected by ‘forest clearings’.

What makes Lime Tree stand out in comparison with many modular or standardised school solutions is that the project has not been compromised by the construction methodology – it simply helped us realise the vision sooner, cheaper and with considerable panache.

Lime Tree Primary Academy - Diagram, cropped
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Lime tree primary academy

Key facts


United Kingdom


Trafford Borough Council / Lime Tree Primary Academy

Project value:

Laing O’Rourke

Front cover:
Building Design Online's World Architecture 100 - January 2015

Learning Spaces - Volume 2.1

Appeared in:
Riba's Future Schools book

Architects Journal's Great Schools essay

Additional facts:
Innovative modular design

420 pupils

Built in only 17 weeks




UK Europe

Philip Watson
Client director, Education

T: +44 20 7121 2990


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