Harmeny Learning Hub

Gold Award



Education Building or Project


Loader Monteith
Loader Monteith
Studio SJM Architects


Harmeny Education Trust


The Harmeny Learning Hub is a new vocational learning centre designed by Loader Monteith with Studio SJM for the Harmeny Education Trust. Designed on the concept of an embrace, the new woodland school provides a safe and uplifting learning environment for students with complex additional support needs due to early years trauma and adversity.

Nestled between two Category-B listed buildings and within a dense, mature woodland, the new learning centre accommodates five classrooms including a wood workshop, an art classroom, two further classrooms and a bike repair workshop and store. A foyer, bathrooms, and staff accommodation are also included within the plan. The timber building is carefully sited within the woodland to create a calm and peaceful courtyard enclave between the classrooms and trees. The main learning areas have direct access to this ‘outdoor classroom’ and feature abundant natural light, blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor to foster a close connection to nature.

At the very core of the project is a desire to provide a safe place in which the children can explore, discover and reflect on their experiences and develop skills that will support them into and throughout their adult life. The building acts to support them on this journey.

Central to the Trust’s ethos of fostering growth through highly relational and therapeutic approaches, Harmeny provides children with the tools to live, learn and lead happy and fulfilling lives. In 2019, they reached a pivotal point in their 60-year history and were encouraged by local authorities and inspection bodies to expand services to disadvantaged youths over the age of 14 from the wider community. Following an intense period of fundraising for Harmeny’s ‘Learning for Life Appeal’, the £2.47m learning centre broke ground in November 2022, and was completed in November 2023.

Designed with natural, robust materials with a low energy in use approach, the Harmeny Learning Hub sets the tone for the future of education design, demonstrating how prioritising the wellbeing of students and staff can create a truly transformational learning environment.





Jim Stephenson