St Paul’s Atrium

Client: The Governors of St Paul’s School and The Mercers’ Company

Year: 1990 Budget: £500,000

This project formed part of a major development programme to modernise and extend the school. In order to overcome the lack of social spaces within the existing buildings, an existing courtyard has been enclosed to create a double height space at the centre of the school, surrounded by the major public areas; the entrance hall, common rooms, tuckshop, library and meeting room. The atrium provides a new social heart and meeting place for the whole school, where circulation routes through and around the space animate it and provide natural supervision.

The slender timber structure, in douglas fir with steel ties and connectors, supports galleries at first floor level and a glazed roof with a central lantern. The natural timber counterbalances the hard character of the existing concrete wall panels. The space is naturally ventilated and heated by conventional radiators. Motorised opening lights and sun-blinds, linked to a computerised control system, maintain comfortable internal temperatures.