Hatcher Prichard Architects has designed Steiner Academy Bristol, a bespoke all through school for 624 children ranging from 4 to 16 years old. The practice has beautifully remodelled the grade 2* Victorian listed campus of buildings and grounds known as St. Matthias Campus in Bristol.
The design has beautifully retrofitted a school for 624 children into a Victorian grade 2* listed campus of buildings and grounds that were built in 1850. An extensive consultation process has captured and incorporated the aspirations of all stakeholders including a broad spectrum of the local community. The process has ensured that all aspects of the design from classroom furnishings to the specific setting out of a hall for eurythmic exercises follows the Steiner learning philosophy whereby two criteria prevail, it should be functional and it should be beautiful.
The school is proud of the building, which fully supports its unique curriculum by providing teaching practices that encourage problem solving, self-expression and creativity intrinsic to the Steiner education ethos. An example is skilled handwork with natural materials performed in a calm room full of daylight. Beyond the day to day running of the school the facilities accommodate all manner of like-minded community uses such as yoga, woodwork and a full sports program.
The design team worked closely with leading experts including English Heritage and the Planning Officer. Examples where this has resulted in amendments to the scheme include an existing rear staircase being retained following feed back from English Heritage. A symbiotic relationship has similarly grown between the practice, the School and the Conservation Officer, which has further enhanced the atmosphere of care and attention to detail.
Design work started by arranging age groups into specific areas within the building, each with its associated requirement for external hard and soft spaces, entrances and boundary conditions. Large-scale spaces such as halls were positioned first before moving down in scale through classrooms, then offices, toilet blocks and stores. The design clearly demonstrates that a retrofit was a far better solution for the a 21st century EFA school than a solution that involved demolition and rebuild.
To make the building accessible to wheelchair users a new ramp was added to the main entrance and lifts placed where they were required. 90% of the complex existing campus of buildings will be now accessible and the school has timetabled identical spaces on the ground floor to be used by those in wheelchairs in the few remaining rooms.
The project required large amounts of cross-disciplinary design co-ordination. Many of the classrooms required walls to be knocked through, in all cases nibs of the existing wall were retained to show the original footprint of the room and all existing features such as fireplaces, windows, architraves, coving and paneling were retained. New heating and lighting systems were coordinated around the existing features within each room before furniture, fittings and equipment layouts were then meticulously planned in order to ensure that worktops, sinks and blackboards fit comfortably into the available space. The remodelled main entrance is a further prime example of innovation whereby a new elegant single storey glass entrance subtly enhances the existing quarried stone façade.
Please tap on the image below to see a photographic record of the refurbishment and construction as the school took shape.
Finally please tap on the school logo to visit the Steiner Academy Bristol website for more information.