St Paul’s is an independent boys school offering an outstanding, all-round education in West London. Originally founded in 1509, the school has a unique range of on-site facilities and the additional teaching block served to further develop the riverside campus.
St Paul's School
Walters + Cohen
Architect Walters + Cohen were appointed to design the new building to better facilitate the needs of the growing campus. Replacing some of the existing 1960’s buildings, the new building contains classrooms, a library and other facilities, including a double height, multi-purpose atrium.
Our brief was to take the architectural intent and complete the design into fabrication which led onto deliver the total facade package, with the exception of the pre-cast concrete and roofing.
The building is arranged in an L-shape in order to connect to buildings on either side on all levels, and enclose the central green courtyard known as Founder’s Court. Elegant vertical piers set out an irregular rhythm and form an integral part of the building’s energy efficiency, providing natural ventilation, solar shading and noise attenuation. The relationship with the Thames was also important to the design: the building provides an attractive impression of the school from the Thames path, and the dining hall and library benefit from views towards the river.
Careful approach to the methodology had to be investigated and implemented, to work within the constraints of a live school environment. Phased demolition and construction, as well as significant delivery challenges had to be managed to minimise disruption.
An RC frame was built off a concrete raft which required careful consideration to some of the deflections. The building was then clad in irregular vertical piers with pre-cast concrete, and the infills created using strips of curtain walling. A mixture of structurally glazed and capped curtain walling incorporated automatic vents and louvre panels with the air-tight line running to the back of the pre-cast. At roof level, rooflights cap off atrium spaces and a louvre enclosure runs around the plant zone. To the courtyard elevations, a continuous glazed canopy with a 4m span protrudes from the spandrel zone at 1st floor level, giving some complex interfacing here.
The completed building won an AIA UK Award in 2020, was highly commended by the Concrete Society, and shortlisted for London RIBA and AJ Awards. It let went on to be recognised as a finalist for the 2022 Civic Trust Awards. The AIA judges commented on the calmness of the spaces – clearly designed for learning and interaction – and the quality of light throughout the building.