Ford Gilpin Riley Architects
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Junior Department, Tiverton

Client: Blundell’s School
Area: 800 m²
Stage: Completed in August 2008
Building costs: £1.4m
Description: Major Extension


The School was housed in an austere building with a tortuous layout and an institutional character. Many of the existing classrooms were undersize, dingy and lacked proper ventilation. Some of the classrooms could only be accessed from other rooms. In addition to reorganizing the existing accommodation, the School required a number of new facilities. It had no main entrance, reception area, Admin or Head’s office. It needed 2 more classrooms, an Art room, a properly equipped Food Technology Suite and a “commercial” kitchen to serve an enlarged multi purpose school hall.

The new accommodation was placed at the west end of the existing building. The new and existing parts were linked by a double height linear, glass roofed space which formed a display and gathering area to the hall and provided access to new rooms and existing spaces that had previously been “landlocked”. This light and airy space formed a new “heart” to the complex, unifying what had been a confused, inefficient layout. It also brought natural light into the core of the complex, with the full height space providing stack effect ventilation to the building as a whole.

The new parts needed to bring vitality to the appearance of the complex, whilst harmonising with the existing building. Cohesion was achieved by constructing the 2 storey southern elevation in a matching facebrick. The change from old to new is clearly de-lineated by a full height glazed curtain wall, forming the main entrance. Brick is then used as a storey-height plinth on the prominent west elevation. The use of bold, white rendered walls on the upper level accentuates the solidity of the older building, whilst the metal roof finish and crisp fenestration establish a more modern feel.

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