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Wycliffe College reveals their £5.49m boarding house

Buttress Architects highlights Wycliffe College's most ambitious project as they adapt to changes in boarder profile and type

Posted by Lucinda Reid | March 23, 2018 | Bricks & mortar

Ward’s-Ivy Grove is the latest boarding house for a leading independent school, Wycliffe College. Set within the school’s Cotswolds estate, the external design is a contemporary interpretation of the historic Georgian and Victorian limestone and brick buildings that are found both on the site and the surrounding area of Stroud. This design response is reflected in the scale, massing, vertical window proportions and the external materials chosen.

The boarding house provides accommodation for 55 full time boarders and 32-day/flexi boarders across three main floors, in a mixture of single, twin, and quad flexi rooms, all with ensuite facilities. Social and shared spaces have been accommodated both at the heart of the plan and throughout the floor levels. Two apartments and two bedsits provide accommodation for the boarding house’s male and female houseparent’s and assistants at apposing ends of the building.

Integrating the building in the site 

In citing the building’s profile, an important consideration was the retention of a number of mature trees that surround the site, including a memorial tree planted in 1966. The result is a ‘cranked’ articulated plan configuration which, on one side, provides entrances and a frontage to the school’s entrance driveway, cricket pitches and main school buildings. The opposite facade faces the public highway, with the existing dense tree enclosure offering privacy with a south facing garden and terrace recreation space.

To further integrate the building within the site, the scale of the building reflects that of the historic three storey buildings on the site and uses a contrasting selection of light buff multi coloured brickwork with deep window reveals lined with cast Portland stone, and contrasting dark zinc roofing. The overall massing of the long elevations has been reduced at ground floor level to the south, with a projecting single storey that houses the main common rooms and one of the house parent’s apartment accommodation.

The northern elevation is broken up with two entrances and staircases, each having projecting three storey glazing and zinc cladding with canopies over stone entrances which are orientated towards the direction of entry. This creates a vertical rhythm that is carried through the façade, with zinc downpipes that serve to visually split the elevations into ‘bays’ that are three windows wide, creating order. Asymmetry is brought into the overall facade with variation in window pattern provided by large picture windows to social and living spaces, giving contrast to the repetitive standard proportioned windows and spacing of masonry piers.

The windows have been designed to optimise daylight to the rooms, without over glazing, whilst allowing the internal configurations of desk and wardrobe either side of this. Where appropriate, rooflights have been used to provide additional natural daylight and ventilation within the two-storey roof mezzanine and in the middle of the deep plan ground floor social spaces.  

The gable elevation has been articulated with large picture windows and cast stone parapet to the steep pitched roof. The social spaces, housemaster’s and assistant’s accommodation are all located to the building corners to benefit having both large windows and windows to two orientations that provide panoramic views and spectacular long-distance views of the Cotswolds from the upper storey’s.

Flexible room module 

Central to the design has been the integration of a flexible room module, developed to help the school respond to a varied boarder profile. The core room module and furniture configuration can be adapted from two single rooms to either a twin, quad flexi, or accessible room, or visa-versa. Allowing the school to cater to annual changes in pupil sex, ages, and type of boarder. This has been achieved by the incorporation of a predesigned and prebuilt ‘knock out’ panel, which can easily be removed or built in by the school during the summer vacation period, while maintaining the required acoustic and fire performance.

To create the flexible model, the design was thoroughly tested and co-ordinated between architectural, structural, and M+E designs within linked 3D models. Precise planning allowed services to be cast through the concrete structure in both columns and slabs, with formwork templates. Vertical risers were also modelled in 3D (Revit model) to allow for the future ‘plug in’ of services including those to the bathroom, with lighting and ventilation being provided. Full size room mock-ups were made off-site by the M+E subcontractor before being finalised within the design.

Also integral to the design flexibility was the co-ordination of the fitted bedroom and bathroom furniture to allow for the different configurations. Off-site sample mock-ups were produced of all the fitted furniture to allow final refinements prior to on-site sample room production. 

The finished result is a robust building that is carefully planned and sensitive addition to the school that provides flexibility and adaptability, allowing the school to confidently prepare and plan for the future.

For more information about Buttress, visit their website.

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