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The Pears National Centre for Autism Education

Ambitious about Autism and TreeHouse School are based in the Pears National Centre for Autism Education, which is located in Muswell Hill, north London.

We purchased the land in Muswell Hill in 2004 for £1 million, through the generous support of The Bradbury Foundation, The Maurice Hatter Foundation, The Henry Smith Charity and The Garfield Weston Foundation.

The total cost of establishing our permanent building was £11.5 million, and towards this, we were awarded a £5 million investment from Futurebuilders (now known as the Social Investment Fund). This purpose built centre officially opened in 2009.

An innovative design

The Pears National Centre has been designed in complete sympathy with our location in the Muswell Hill conservation area. Ambitious about Autism asked its architects to select natural materials where possible and to use sustainable technologies. Innovative design features include a living green roof and underground ventilation.

The architects were Penoyre and Prasad. Founded in 1988, they have won a number of awards for their high-quality designs in education, the arts and healthcare.

Green features of the building

The Pears National Centre for Autism Education has been designed to be a low energy and low carbon building. The building is predicted to use 67% less energy than the energy benchmarks set out in the Greater London Authority's guidance for planners. 10% of the energy will be derived from renewable energy sources (ground coupled air pipes).

The Pears National Centre for Autism Education's ‘green features’ include:

  • The roof has been planted with environmentally friendly sedum, creating a habitat for native flora and fauna; softening the visual impact of the building; and providing insulation to reduce the need for additional heating
  • Rooflights on the first floor ensure maximum daylight levels. Light shafts provide daylight from the roof down to the ground floor classrooms to minimise the amount of artificial light needed
  • Artificial lighting is controlled by photocells linked to dimmers to minimise the artificial lighting load
  • Energy efficient boilers minimise the gas load for heating and hot water. The efficient fabric, form and air tightness of the building means that the heating load is low
  • Rainwater recycling system supplies the WC flushes, reducing energy used in treating and supplying water to the building and treating surface water drained from the building
  • High performance glazing minimises solar transmission in summer and heat loss in winter, while still maintaining high light transmission to retain daylight levels.
  • A ground coupled air system uses the thermal mass of the ground as a heat source in winter (warming the incoming air) and as a heatsink in summer to cool the incoming air. This results in a carbon saving of 10% or 1056kg/year

Pears Foundation

Pears Foundation has been a phenomenal supporter of Ambitious about Autism and TreeHouse School, raising over £1 million since 2005. In recognition of the Foundation’s unique support and partnership, we are honoured to have named our building The Pears National Centre for Autism Education. A plaque featuring the new name for the building was unveiled at the official opening in 2009.

Pears Foundation is a British family foundation rooted in Jewish values. Its work is concerned with positive identity and citizenship. The Foundation is a leading funder of autism education in the UK and has invested significant resources in new research and facilities.

The training suite

At the Pears National Centre for Autism Education, there are purpose-built ground-floor facilities for training and meetings. These are modern, accessible and well lit, with a built-in lectern and projector. The modular furniture can be configured in a variety of different ways to suit the type of training. There are three Training Rooms each with a capacity of 12-20 depending on layout, which can be opened out to form the Training Suite, which comfortably seats 30 classroom style or 60 theatre style.

A foyer area directly outside the Training Suite gives access to a kitchen, toilet facilities (including an accessible toilet) and a cloakroom. An additional breakout room in this area (seating 8) is also available.

Our training suite is available to hire for your bespoke training needs. To find out more, please contact the Training Team on 020 8815 5166 or

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