St Swithun’s is an independent day and boarding school in Winchester. The senior school is housed in handsome 1930s red brick buildings that are fit-for-purpose and well used. However, the junior school had developed in an ad hoc fashion and was in need of new buildings that could better support their education ambitions.
In 2012 Walters & Cohen won a competition to design new junior school accommodation. During the design process we studied the original 1930s masterplan, engaged with the school community as well as representatives from Winchester City Council and the South Downs National Park. Our design responds well to planning expectations and fulfils the school’s desire to engage with its wider landscape.
The main two-storey building accommodates classrooms, reception and admin offices; its horseshoe shape means that all classrooms look out onto the beautiful verdant surroundings. The generous heart space looks onto a courtyard play area and includes a large amphitheatre stair, underneath which sits a cosy reading nook. Linked to this building are the new hall and gym. The double-height hall has a warm timber lining and diagrid ceiling, which contribute to the excellent acoustics and quality of the space. Bleacher seating provides flexibility of use, and, in a muted blue, complements the simple elegance expressed in the architecture.
The red brick façade works well in relation to the 1930s buildings, while the positioning and massing minimises impact on the landscape. In May 2016 the official opening included enthusiastic tours by the pupils, a dedication by the Bishop of Winchester, and a cake in the shape of the building!
More photos to follow shortly.