St Pauls School

The practice has designed a number of new spaces at St Paul’s School, including a theatre, Arts and technology centre and social space.

A flexible theatre was formed within an existing rectangular school hall to create a comfortable and well-equipped auditorium. It can also be adapted for uses requiring a flat floor, such as dinners and other social events. The 280-seat open stage auditorium is set on the short axis of the room and consists of a permanent raised gallery which wraps around the apron stage, with a new foyer space below. This is combined with a removable seating system on rostra, which can be cleared to create a large area of flat floor.

A new Arts and technology centre forms part of a major development programme to modernise and extend the school. The new Arts Block and Technology Centre are prominently sited, facing across playing fields, and are linked to the existing buildings. The four storey Arts Block is L-shaped in plan with the top storey set back from the three storey masonry base. The first two floors provide general teaching space, a drama studio, theatre workshop and art gallery. The upper two floors house the art department with accommodation for pottery, sculpture, painting, drawing and photography. The main painting studio on the top floor is well lit by north-lights set into the pitch of the roof. The massing of the Arts Block mirrors the existing four storey Science Block and the single storey Technology Centre lies between the two. It has a barrel-vaulted roof with north-lights over the central workshop spaces and ancillary storage and staff areas planned around the perimeter.

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 through natural ventilation.

  • ClientThe Governors of St Paul’s School and The Mercers’ Company