© Walters & Cohen
© Walters & Cohen

St Paul’s School

St Paul’s School in Barnes is one of the most prestigious independent schools in the UK, but since it moved to its current location on a 42-acre site abutting the River Thames in 1968, it has been overdue an upgrade in facilities. As part of a multiphase plan, we have teamed up with architects Walters & Cohen to design an entirely new teaching block.

The original teaching building was built using a “CLASP” system of concrete panels which created a semi-temporary structure, originally only projected to last for about 40 years. The school invested in numerous refurbishment projects to prolong the building’s life, but by the early 2000s, this was no longer sustainable. A science building due to link to the teaching block was completed in 2013, the foundations of which will need to be worked around.

The new block, which incorporates a chapel and a library alongside classrooms, is on a constrained site, surrounded by existing school buildings. The current teaching building is due for demolition and will be replaced by an L-shaped structure comprising an exposed flat slab concrete construction to maximise thermal mass. The building adopts mixed mode ventilation to limit energy usage and encourage sustainability. Natural light is drawn into the building via large windows and a central atrium to encourage circulation.

The requirements for groundworks and foundations are complex: the remains of a former sewage works are situated below a thick layer of made ground, requiring extensive ground investigation to determine contamination hotspots and remediation measures. The Thames Water ring man is routed deep below the site and the proposed new Thames super sewer borders the site. District mains pipework beneath the building footprint must be diverted prior to construction. The school needs to remain functional throughout construction, so phasing needs to include a temporary decant building on a nearby playing field.

A multiphase upgrade operation for one of the UK’s most prestigious schools

London, UK
St Paul’s School
Walters & Cohen
on site