Italian Gothic in the heart of London

Friday 26 Feb 2010

Broomwood Hall School overcomes the odds and converts listed building into flexible performance space

Founded in 1984, Broomwood Hall School is an independent preparatory school for 4-12 year olds in South London. The School acquired 74 Nightingale Lane in 1988. The building is Grade II Listed and was constructed in 1872 in the Italian Gothic style. Much altered by later additions, only the elaborate six-storey ‘campanile’ has survived largely intact.

The brief was to create a facility on the top floor suitable for a variety of uses including teaching, assembly, drama, music, film, and PE. The space was to accommodate an audience of up to 150 persons plus performers. The successful scheme had to overcome a number of hurdles including onerous planning and Listed Building constraints, structural issues, lack of space for building services, means of escape, and acoustic design issues. Construction work would have to be carried out during occupation with minimal disruption to the School.

To overcome sensitive planning constraints the new-build element was designed to be virtually invisible from street level. The key feature of the design is a lightweight engineered timber roof (no additional loads could be applied to the existing structure). The roof design was developed to minimise structural depth and enable rapid assembly on site. The structure is exposed internally to provide a striking architectural space. Careful attention has been paid to the acoustic design and sustainability through the selection of materials and use of energy saving measures. Long-life, low-maintenance materials have been used, including terne-coated stainless steel externally and Douglas fir and birch plywood internally. Extensive building services have been carefully coordinated and concealed within the building fabric, including using the ‘campanile’ tower for the mechanical plant.

The project includes the design and provision of all interior fittings including demountable staging, seating, stage curtains and full theatre lighting and audio-visual systems.The new facility has transformed the way the senior school operates, providing a state of the art facility that can be used for a variety of teaching, performance and other activities.

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