Walters & Cohen has completed the second part of a two-phase development project at The King’s School, a prestigious, co-educational independent school for over 800 pupils aged 13-18. Founded in 597AD, the school is situated within the magnificent setting in the Precincts of Canterbury Cathedral and adjacent to the historic city wall, a Scheduled Monument.
In early 2014, Walters & Cohen won an invited competition to design new boarding accommodation for the school which was looking to increase pupil numbers and strengthen its co-educational balance by enhancing provision for girl boarders with an additional 50-60 places.
Phase 1 comprised the refurbishment of the Grade II listed Butterfield building and Master’s House to create boarding accommodation for 30 pupils of Kingsdown House, a new girls’ boarding House, and includes a common room, quiet study area, kitchen and ‘brew’ areas. This was completed in time for the new school year in 2015.
Phase 2 of the project recently completed, was the construction of a new building for older pupils of Kingsdown House. The site was acquired by The King’s School as part of a larger masterplan project; close to the existing campus, adjacent to the city wall and with fine views of the Cathedral, it offered the opportunity to create a new relationship and interaction between contemporary design and the historic setting. Different options were explored for the new building footprint, its position on site, height, composition and roofscape, in close consultation with Canterbury City Council, Historic England and members of the public.
The design is of a gabled, two-storey building with rooms in the roof, accommodating 23 single study bedrooms, and housing the 6th form girls who require a more private and quiet setting to study for exams. A modest, single storey element connects to the Butterfield building with a frameless glass link joining them to the new accommodation building and allowing views out towards the city wall.
The new building is clad in handmade clay tiles, drawing on local architecture and construction techniques, while the building’s elegant profile and gabled roof complement the features of its neighbours. The dormer windows allow additional rooms to be located in the roof without raising the height of the building. This was a crucial consideration in order not to intrude on the existing rooflines which form part of the historic setting. The use of clay tiles also allows the continuous stone plane of the Butterfield building, Master’s House and the street wall to retain its prominence.
The landscape was conceived as an integral part of the design, offering spaces for study and socialising, with views towards the Cathedral. The design draws on the historic gardens beside the city wall and aims to revive the relationship between the two. It provides a series of connected external spaces of different character, allowing routes through, seating and a balance between soft and hard landscaping.
Peter Roberts, The King’s School Headmaster, said: “The Housemistress, Matron and Tutors have all said it is as if the house has always been there; so cleverly do the designs talk to the historic buildings on both the Cathedral and the Broad Street sides. Lady Rose Kingsdown remarked at the grand opening that every pupil and member of the house team shares a sense of pride in the stunning new creation and loved showing visitors around!”