The new structure occupies a space that once had a collection of sheds and storage units. As well as a new learning space, the block also functions as an office, plant and storeroom.
Architects Squire and Partners took inspiration from the craftsmanship and simple technology of timber-framed structures, the perfect solution to accommodate and in turn inspire the school’s Design and Technology students.
‘The approach was driven by the idea that an educational space dedicated to design and technology should itself be a showcase for craftsmanship. As well as its inherent aesthetic beauty, timber construction has the added benefit of rapid construction time – an important factor when building in a busy school environment.’ Giles Heather, Squire and Partners
The frame of this stunning timber frame school building was made from Douglas fir, a wood that is both durable and cost-effective. The partially exposed frame has hips coming down to dragon beams to the corners. With no windows, light enters the room via the glazed roof lantern.
The dark external cladding provides a striking contrast to the light Douglas fir timber interior. Our frame features traditional pegged mortise and tenon joints, with by steel hex-head fixings and sheets of birch-faced ply panels lining the walls. The plywood is also an excellent bracing material, the walls of the building are aesthetically in-keeping alongside, giving the room a contemporary edge.
‘The clean outline of the studio – with flush gutters and a pyramidal rooflight – is a deliberate counterpoint to the intricate Gothic outline of the main school building. But some materials were borrowed from the host building, such as the slate tiles we used for the roof. With countersunk hex-head screws and precision-aligned shadow gaps, the uncut panels of birch-faced ply give the traditional timber frame a contemporary edge.’ Giles Heather
St James Design Technology Block was shortlisted for a 2015 FX International Design Award in the Public Sector.
Photography: Gareth Gardner