The Sixth Form Centre, hall and ‘playground in the sky’ are the third phase of what has been a development jigsaw with each part of the development dependant on last.
The large assembly hall is tucked in behind the new Sixth Form and is dug down into the site at basement level. The hall provides a space for gathering the whole Senior School together. Nestling the hall into the ground provided several benefits but principally, allowed us to tie the levels of the new build with both the existing Piper Building and the Junior School whilst also reducing the mass of the development alongside the neighbour’s boundary.
The new Sixth Form Centre presents as an additional ‘fourth house’ alongside the existing three which form the School’s Wimbledon Hill frontage. This complements the existing buildings as a contemporary addition echoing the form and materiality without being a pastiche of the existing.
Inside, we wanted to create a gradient from public student spaces to private spaces for study, sanctuary, and a feeling of ownership. We also wanted to generate a sense of exploration and curiosity that mirrored the School’s attitude to learning and teaching. The café provides a warm welcome with views up to the first-floor study space and a view down into the cavernous hall below. Upstairs, the folded roof of the sixth form building gives a sense of drama and aspiration to the study space which has views out over the front. Towards the rear, the scale of the sixth form common room is cosier, with its own rooftop courtyard detached from the world around. The ‘playground in the sky’ also sits at first floor level, tucked behind the common room and linked into the junior school.
The School, contractor and project team worked closely and effectively to deliver such a complex design in a busy working school environment.