In 2012 Walters & Cohen won an invited competition to design a new teaching building at St Paul’s School in Barnes, London. Founded in 1509 by humanist John Colet, it is one of the best independent schools for boys in the country.
The new building replaces facilities provided by 1960s CLASP buildings, which had reached the end of their lifespan. Consultation with the school community helped develop the brief and ensure the building is entirely fit for purpose. At more than 9,000m2, it comprises classrooms, a library, dining hall, kitchen, administrative offices, a chapel, hall and social spaces, including a generous multi-purpose Atrium. Demolition and construction are phased to minimise disruption.
The building is arranged in an L-shape in order to connect to buildings on either side on all levels, and enclose the central green courtyard known as Founder’s Court. Elegant vertical piers set out an irregular rhythm and form an integral part of the building's energy efficiency, providing natural ventilation, solar shading and noise attenuation. The relationship with the Thames was also important to the design: the building provides an attractive impression of the school from the Thames path, and the dining hall and library benefit from views towards the river.
The High Master, Mark Bailey, commented on our 'positive, purposeful and productive partnership' with the school: 'Walters & Cohen has got under the skin of what we want and need, and they continue to retain their focus on delivering a building that meets those needs. They want the building to be a joy to work in, not just a joy to behold. An architectural practice with flair and expertise, and without ego.'