In June 2015 BBM were approached by Reigate Saint Mary’s Preparatory and Choir School to undertake an initial Design Study for a new classroom block to replace the existing ‘Green Rooms’: a block of temporary classrooms that are starting to deteriorate.
The brief required a truly low energy building that would also facilitate a high level of accessibility. The Programmatic Brief asked for 8 classrooms with flexible spill-out spaces to facilitate a range of age groups. The brief also asked for staff facilities, storage areas and bathrooms to serve up to 176 students and 16 Staff.
BBM produced initial designs for a two-storey building with a robust brickwork plinth and timber clad first floor. The material palette was selected to be hardwearing and robust, but also to utilise local materials; Sweet Chestnut coppiced from nearby woodlands and bricks sourced from a local brick yard. These materials would allow the building to sit sensitively within the wooded area to the south of the buildings and the historic brick buildings to the north.
The proposed roof forms respond to the site’s orientation and context; allowing for maximum use of solar gain and maximum potential for solar collection. The proposed roof forms also allowed for vaulted ceiling spaces to first floor classrooms – providing excellent acoustic treatment, exciting spaces and providing north light directly to the classrooms below. Large areas of the roof were proposed with a native grassland roof finish, intensifying the bio-diversity of the site and helping to reduce surface water run-off from the footprint of the proposed building.
The plan strategy was based around two banks of classrooms located either side of a central circulation space that facilitated flexible spill-out spaces and also provided opportunities for semi-external, sheltered spaces that spread out into the adjacent canopy of trees. The classrooms themselves were arranged to allow for a high level of flexibility in teaching children of a range of ages.