projects: designed & managed by Architecture & Building Design
Major building design and project management clients in Cambridge include: Kings College Prep, the Windmill Special Needs Pool, Wesley Methodist Church, and Mayfield Primary.
- Therapy pool with changing rooms in purpose built building attached to school.
- New glazed porch with slate roof, stone column and automatic doors.
- Two squash courts with changing room and viewing galleries, for use by Kings College and the school;
- New block comprising Computer & technology suites, staff room, and extended Girls changing rooms;
- Alteration & extension to Assembly hall to provide new music practice rooms on two floors;
- Internal adaptions providing new servery in dining hall;
- Three-storey extension to Junior School building.
- Extended classroom to provide better access and facilities.
- Additional meeting room.
Windmill Special Needs School was in Fulbourn, just outside Cambridge. It educated severely disabled children. The children’s parents inspired this project: a therapy pool and changing rooms in a purpose built building. However, Cambridgeshire County Council, who at the time was responsible, feared it would be a “white elephant”.
We were appointed architects, as we are familiar with Cambridgeshire County Council’s procedures and requirements. In addition, our experience of maintaining council properties, including schools was also useful. It took us and the parents two years to persuade the council to support the scheme.
Our architectural design met the all the school’s requirements for the disabled, as well as the fund-raising committee’s budgets. For instance:
- The pool measures 10 metres by 5 metres with a constant depth of 1.2 metres.
- The water is kept at a recommended hydrotherapy temperature.
- There are large changing areas with changing/shower beds available.
- The pool is equipped with a remote hoisting system.
- The remote tracking system extends from the changing areas to the pool. Thus,
- It is easy to transfer a person from their wheelchair onto the shower bed and then into the pool.
- A manual hoist means visitors who find walking or climbing stairs difficult can also use the pool.
- The pool is easily accessible by wheelchair.
In addition, we suggested simple improvements to the way the new building connected to the school. Working with the headmaster and Chairman of the appeal committee, we also broke the contract into phases. This was because although the parents had raised some money, it wasn’t sufficient to complete the project. However, once work commenced, everyone felt more money would roll in.
As soon as the building work commenced, sufficient funds rolled in to complete the whole contract. The pool worked well for the school, until the school closed. It became a Steiner School even though the council received a higher bid from a private company. Partly, we suspect, this was because the county council wanted to keep this precious resource for the local community, particularly Cambridge Mencap.
Wesley Methodist Church is off King Street by the Four Lamps roundabout in central Cambridge. The church was modernised in the 1990’s, but the main entrance was a “greenhouse” that leaked. The objective was to create a new entrance in harmony with the existing building.
Our Design Solution
Our solution is a natural slate roof, with roof lights, and a concealed gutter. A circular column supports the roof, and conceals the rain-water pipe. The stone column is Bath stone, selected from a specific bed, from a particular mine, matching the existing cladding. It is is highly durable. Some of the existing Bath stone cladding had weathered badly.
The orginal entrance felt odd, because the entrance doors were square to the building. We architected the doors so that they are now perpendicular to you as you approach to the building. Somehow, this just feels right. The trick was the free standing round column that enables the glazed doors to be perpendicular to the approach, rather than the building. A square column, for instance, would have looked odd if the glazing wasn’t “connected” to it.
The fascias for the porch roof are clad with copper which over time turns green. We chose the colour of the aluminium door and window frames to complement the copper cladding as it changes colour.
This school, not far from the “backs” in Cambridge, is owned by the college. It educates young choristers for the world-famous chapel choir. The school is located in a conservation area.
When modifying old buildings, builders often discover problems, such as old structures, buried under the current building. Our skill is to identify appropriately skilled builders, and rapidly provide solutions to the problems builders discover, without increasing our client’s budget or desired timescale.
Two Squash Courts With Changing Rooms And Viewing Galleries
Both Kings College and the school use these squash courts. The building boasts the largest grass roof in Cambridge
New Block: Computer And Technology Suites, Staff Room, And Extended Girls Changing Rooms
This project was proposed by a project manager employed at the school. His vision was to extend the existing girls changing rooms and form a mansard roof to accommodate the first floor rooms. The planners had indicated they would approve this idea.
The actual floor space the school required exceeded the available space. So we architected a cloister, with columns, to create a larger first floor. Naturally the project finished within time and budget.
Assembly Hall Extension And New Music-Practice Rooms
The octagonal assembly hall had been built in the 1960s from white bricks, in contrast to red bricks used throughout the school. In addition, an octagonal staff room and ancillary rooms surrounded the hall. Thus the assembly hall was the visual hub at the centre of the school.
However, the hall wasn’t large enough to accomodate all the pupils. Even on the day it opened, some pupils had to sit outside. Our solution was to build a two storey extension, and to rationalise underused spaces. In addition, as the school is famed for its music tuition, we created 10 music practice rooms of differing sizes, plus additional offices. Again the project was completed without disturbing teaching schedules.
New Dining Hall Servery
We re-designed the existing space to create a new servery adjacent to the dining hall. This provides separate, and more efficient, access for hot food dishes and pupils. In addition, we expanded the dining area. Of course the project met the schools budget and schedule expectations.
Three Storey, Junior-School Extension
We removed an existing conservatory, entrance hall and porch, which were not “original”. This enabled us to erect a two storey extension, with a lift tower to serve every floor. The extension provides an entrance that enables smooth circulation around the building, with a staircase to access large classrooms on each floor. In addition, the school gained additional storage space.
Our design did not obscure the original “Dutch” gable. Although our design was contemporary, the extension follows the spirit of the original building. Few visitors can spot that the extension is new. Naturally the project finished before term recommenced, within budget.
A Second Three Storey Extension For The Junior School
The second extension is at the opposite end of the building to the entrance. The school’s aim was to enlarge three existing classrooms and create a fourth new classroom, that met their requirements for space and equipment.
Our plan rectified some of the design flaws in the original building. Our design matched our earlier three storey extension, using the same bricks, windows and contemporary details. This unified a building that had been extended and altered many times. Naturally we met all the school’s expectations.
Mayfield is the largest primary school in Cambridge. It strikes us as one of the happiest and most successful. Play groups and children’s clubs also use the school. We often work with schools, as we know how to work within tight budgets and timescales, without disturbing the teaching schedule.
The first extension provided a larger classroom with better access and facilities. We reconfigured the adjoining internal spaces, the storeroom and toilets, to improve access to the classroom and ease pupil supervision. The children got new glazed doors that opened directly onto their playground. The playground included an adventure garden. The new classroom incorporated integral toilets and washbasins. We used standard kitchen units with the plinths removed, to provide a rugged worksurface for the children, and store materials such as paint and books,
The work was completed during the summer holidays, and finished on time and budget.
Additional meeting room
The school wanted an additional meeting room. We created the additional space by relocating two toilets, moving the cleaners store, and stealing space from an overly-large reception area.We released space for the reception area, by building a new flanking brick wall that supports a new projecting porch. This enables us to move the entrance doors outwards.
Again the work was completed during the summer holidays, and finished on time and budget. Partly, this was because we provided a clear specification and guidelines during the tendering process, and incorporated some of the builder’s suggestions.