With over 80 years’ history as an independent school, Notre Dame School combines the benefits of a rich heritage with the challenges of several outdated buildings. We took on the task of replacing some of those lower-quality buildings with a new three-storey building – one that would be built to last, complementing the site’s history while setting a high standard for its future.
The new building houses a staff room, pupil common room and changing facilities on the ground floor, with the two upper floors used for an art department. This allowed us to exploit the site’s abundance of natural light and stunning views over the Surrey countryside: we located staff tech and prep rooms with storage on the second floor, reserving the top floor for a flexible art studio space to give young artists the maximum amount of north light possible.
Our design for this upper floor responds thoughtfully to the creative activities that will go on there, and we kept the plan as open as we could, with minimal columns and movable partitions to support different class sizes, teaching styles and projects. The building rises up slightly above its neighbours –allowing for more generous ceiling heights, and giving it a strong visual identity on the campus.
By focusing on the whole life of the building and using robust materials, we designed the new art building as a highly sustainable addition to the school’s heritage – one they can enjoy for many years to come. Our proposals set the foundation for a valuable new asset to the school, supporting its students with spaces where their creative imagination can truly breathe.