Our challenge was to reconcile the Houlton masterplan, with its tiered planning process, physical layout and phased delivery programme, the Academy Trust’s particular brief, and the character, significance and condition of the listed building. Learning from our experience delivering the first primary school at Houlton, St Gabriel’s, and the range of issues and the complexity of discussions the project was intensively – and happily – collaborative.
Initial ideas started from our analysis and understanding of C Station, hugely helped by the historic drawings and photographs within the British Telecom Archive and in the book The History of Rugby Radio Station by Malcolm Hancock, based on his 38 years of work at the site.
Sadly, our generation leaves an uncertain future: visible climate change, increasing temperatures and extreme weather. Maintaining the legacy of ancient buildings can conflict with the legacy of climate change: as architects we balance responsibility for both.
The adaption of C-Station to create Houlton School shows that it is possible to transform the energy use and carbon emissions of many listed buildings – and most older buildings of lesser significance – avoiding the false premise that only new buildings can perform well. The project transforms the historic buildings’ performance, comfortably exceeding the Building Regulations for a new building. This enables the building to be used, and secures it a viable future, so its built and social heritage will enrich future generations.
JAMES (JOSH) MCCOSH (VHH PARTNER)