Case Study

Taking the long view...

Latymer Upper School

London /

Ideas

Our work for Latymer School is one of our best examples of a long-term client/architect relationship which ran between 1995 and 2010 and included six projects. During that time we have developed a mutual trust and understanding that has immeasurably benefited each design.

Our single most important contribution was in persuading the school’s governors that they should be looking 15-20 years ahead, not just at one project at a time. We felt that with such a tight urban site they needed to think carefully about how best to use it. During the design of our first commission for a new Arts Centre, we drew up a masterplan in which the school would be thought of as a campus, to be developed in phases.

By the time we came to design the last two buildings, the Performing Arts Building and the Science and Library Building, we were able to persuade the school to be more adventurous. The science building is, as a result, more ambitious as a result of being part of a wider programme of development by one architect.


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Edward Latymer Arts Centre

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Performing Arts Centre

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Science and Library Building

Context

Latymer Upper School is a co-educational Independent School, based in Hammersmith. Our long association with the school began when we won an invited competition to design a new Arts Centre in 1995. As well as designing the new masterplan for the site, subsequent projects include the refurbishment of the dining hall and the design of a new sports pavilion as part of the redevelopment of the school’s Wood Lane playing fields. When the school’s music department began to grow after it became co-educational we were asked to design a new Performing Arts Building, which includes a recital hall and a new dance/drama studio.

The Science and Library Building, our most recent addition, was completed in 2010. All the new buildings, other than the sports pavilion, face onto the square at the heart of our new masterplan.


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How we worked

The school had a sensible liaison strategy when we were working on each project. We worked directly with Deputy Head, who was also head of capital projects, and a single governor who happened also to be an architect. This meant that our discussions were efficient and we developed a great working relationship.

We also held discussions with the other governors and subject heads, listening carefully to the needs and individual concerns of each department.

We worked hard to persuade the local council, Hammersmith and Fulham, to agree to our proposals. The site borders a conservation area, but we managed to persuade them that the developments at the school would benefit Hammersmith in the long term. The site has been transformed over 15 years and the buildings are used by the community, as well as the school.

The position of the Performing Arts building right in the centre of the masterplan demanded careful planning in order to avoid the inevitable problems of building during term time. We operated as project managers, not just architects. We always had a very good relationship with both the contractor and school and were able to liaise between the two.


Although we had a long-term relationship with the school we still had to compete for the Science and Library Building. One of the reasons we won the project was because we demonstrated that they could get a new building of the size they wanted without demolishing the existing building. This meant that they could remain in operation while it was under construction, without the need for temporary accommodation. It is an example of how we consider delivery and the logistical needs of the client, as well as the design.

All the jobs were traditionally procured and we acted as project managers too. We were responsible for the full scope of design work, including the interior design, on all the projects.


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Making it happen

The main school building, the Science and Library Building, the Arts Building and the Performing Arts Building all face onto the central square at the heart of our masterplan.

The two arts buildings are linked by a pair of glazed bridges, designed as naturally ventilated ‘outside’ spaces. The fully glazed north elevation of the Performing Arts Building reveals a dramatic quadruple-height foyer which opens onto the square. The internal flank walls of the foyer are brick, but the back wall has a painted plaster finish which brings colour to the interior and exterior.


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The Science and Library Building forms the eastern boundary of the square and provides a significant new landmark for the school. The entrance to the building is alongside the Lower School; the two buildings are connected via links at upper and ground levels.


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In this building we proposed some radical ideas which the school was keen to adopt. The laboratories are designed to be as flexible as possible, and all are naturally ventilated. They are arranged around a central circulation atrium space which provides a source of light via clerestory windows. Each floor has a central preparation room, and the labs are serviced from a series of connecting perimeter doors so that technicians do not have to cross the central area during class-change periods.


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The library is on the ground floor of the new building, and full-height glazing helps to connect it to the square. The library in turn links to the new Sixth Form Centre on the ground floor of the Lower School.


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Data

Client

Latymer Upper School, London

Value

Area

Location

London

Our Role

Architect And Lead Consultant

Awards

BCSE Awards, Latymer Science and Library Building
BDA Building of the Year, Latymer Performing Arts Centre