St Paul’s School Shortlisted for Concrete Society Award
Following the news that St. Pauls School was shortlisted for a Concrete Society Award (winner yet to be announced), we thought we share some of the work we did on the project and the more technical aspects of the stunning use of concrete.
Founded in 1509 by humanist John Colet, St Paul’s School, in Barnes London, is one of the best independent schools offering an outstanding, all-round education for gifted boys aged 7 to 18 years.
Designed by Walters & Cohen Architects, the building was designed 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. The new building replaces the 1960s CLASP buildings (“collection of loosely assembled steel parts"), which had reached the end of their lifespan. The new 9,000m2 school comprises of new classrooms, a library, dining hall, kitchen, administrative offices, a chapel, hall and social spaces, including a generous multi-purpose Atrium.
It was imperative to the design that the in-situ concrete for St Paul’s was of the highest finish and standards. The on-site team gave particular attention to the concrete that is visible on the finished school, ensuring the highest quality finish, colour, texture and detailing, across all the walls, columns, stairs, and soffits.
To minimise disruption, the sequence was split into two phases. A good relationship was built between the site team, architect and engineers at an early stage, allowing the design and construction sequence to run as smoothly as possible. The early stage design meetings with the architect meant items such as tie hole positions, board arrangements and construction joints could be agreed early, and to the architect’s specification. This also helped the site team physically construct the visual elements, with tie hole positions being in locations to decrease grout loss at kickers and stop ends.
Testament to our close working relationship with architect, Walters & Cohen revised the specification in phase two to allow for our own tried and tested methods of special finish concrete construction. This allowed us to achieve the high-quality finish that was required.
Mitigating the challenges of construction at a live school
As this was a live school, it was imperative that disruption was kept to a minimum. We worked closely with the school and brought our experience and bespoke logistical planning and a safe and efficient ‘just in time’ delivery system, along with techniques to minimise noise and dust, allowing the school to maintain their high educational standards and ensuring safety for staff and pupils.
“Generally, I couldn't be more pleased with the quality of workmanship on the concrete, and don't have any comments on this. Over the full extent of the stair, soffits and shear walls, it's probably the best visual concrete I've ever seen. Harry [Hobbs], please pass this on to your team, they have done an amazing job.”
Tim Rowley, Associate Director – Walters & Cohen Architects
Photography – Greg King