In 2006 Walters & Cohen won an invited competition to design a new visual and performing arts building for the Lady Eleanor Holles School, an independent girls’ school on the outskirts of south-west London. The school offers an extensive arts and music programme to a very high standard and needed to replace facilities that were nearing the end of their life.
We designed a large extension for new art, music and performance facilities. Music provision is highly specialised, with classrooms, practice rooms, a recording studio, music technology room, percussion room, and a timber-lined recital room that can accommodate solo or chamber group performances to an audience of around 100. The new theatre is a triple-storey volume for spoken word performances, with retractable bleacher seating for 300, and a walnut lining that creates a rich and pleasant environment. Although the space can function as a black box for performances, windows behind the stage may be opened to allow more versatility of use, such as exams, lectures and prize-giving events.
The art department on the first floor enjoys views over the playing fields. All four of the main teaching rooms benefit from good north light and receive daylight from two sides. An internal courtyard draws light into the deepest part of the plan on both floors; the circulation area that surrounds it makes a pleasant, serene atrium for independent study and art displays.
The project won an RIBA London Award in 2014 and was rated BREEAM Excellent post construction.