In 2014 Walters & Cohen was asked by The King’s School in Canterbury to design a day house for 75 pupils. Day houses are an important part of the school’s pastoral and academic structure, providing a base where non-boarding students can study, relax and socialise.
The project was the result of a space audit of the King’s estate, which identified that Mitchinson’s, one of its three day houses, had outgrown its use and occupied a site better suited to teaching accommodation. The chosen location was a charming but dilapidated Grade II listed building on nearby St Radigunds Street, as well as the back of a neighbouring shop and a carpark and house on Duck Lane, which border the rear of the site.
This is a tight site with many constraints. It is of archaeological importance, containing the remains of a medieval hospice (a Scheduled Ancient Monument), and the listed building at the front of the site wears a blue plaque for its connection with racing driver Count Louis Zborowski. A sewer runs under the site, and asbestos was found in the existing property.
The brief called for a kitchenette, a TV/common room, study rooms and offices for the houseparent and staff. Our proposal retains the listed frontage and timber elements and demolishes the derelict rear extensions to make way for new, purpose-built accommodation that keeps to the footprint of the old. Due to the large wall boundary on the east, daylight and ventilation are drawn into the deepest part of the plan by a lightwell, creating a pleasant internal courtyard. The ground floor study rooms open onto soft landscaping and the common room opens onto a terrace. Staff are located throughout the house, and a garden room provides a link to the houseparent’s residence so that students are supported throughout the day.