School extension by ORMS inspired by drawings of former sacristan's barn
ORMS Architecture Design has recently completed a striking Performing Arts Department and Theatre extension for The King's School Ely - a leading Cambridgeshire school in the medieval heart of Ely and close to the 11th century Cathedral. Originally selected following a national design competition, ORMS helped The King's School to develop proposals to create a Performing Arts complex which incorporated their existing Music School and School Hall.
ORMS has now created a complex of linked but separate buildings for Art, Drama, Music and Performance arranged around a courtyard garden. This complex has been achieved with a combination of new buildings and the imaginative reuse of existing buildings in a remarkably cost effective solution given the range of benefits which the scheme offers. The proposals also set out a plan to allow the school to expand its academic facilities around a second courtyard at some stage in the future.
The centre piece is a newly built two-storey Art school. During historical research ORMS discovered drawings of the beautiful roof structure of the former sacristan's barn at Ely. This was the inspiration for the new two-storey art building which is undoubtedly modern but sympathetic - in scale, simple building form and materiality - to its historic setting. The quality of natural light in this building is however entirely modern, balancing light from different facades and from the continuous ridge roof light to create a magical quality of internal environment. These qualities are further enhanced by careful selection and positioning of artificial lighting.
Externally the zinc edged, slate covered roof is crowned by a continuous north facing ridge window which floods the interior with light and creates a warm and inspirational environment for the young artists. The regular structure of the timber roof gives order to the interior spaces. Steel is used to make the structure more elegant and it enables a continuous eaves level window overlooking the Bishop's Palace garden.