Upottery is a picturesque village in the Blackdown ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. The village boasts a number of beautiful listed buildings including the original school house built in the late 1800s. The original building is a typical Victorian school house with a double height hall and the school master’s living accommodation. Over the years the original building had been extended and three temporary timber classrooms had been positioned in the grounds to provide teaching accommodation for around 80 children.
TFQ were commissioned to design a new extension to the existing Victorian school house to provide three classrooms, a large hall with kitchen facilities, a further resources area as well as associated storage and toilet facilities. The design process was largely influenced by the need for a sensitive approach to both the listed building and the AONB. TFQ worked closely with the Conservation Officer for East Devon District Council to ensure that the listed building was respected and that the large extension complemented and enhanced the character of the local area. An early decision was taken to demolish the ugly flat roofed extensions to the existing listed building and to remove the timber classrooms, allowing the Victorian school building to return to its original form.
Due to the large area and volume of the proposed new accommodation, there was a danger that the extension would overwhelm the existing school house.
The design solution successfully addressed this issue by breaking up the extension into sections, linked together with lightweight glazed circulation spaces. This approach allowed each element of the overall school building to have its own identity.
The original stone built school house took the foreground and provided the entrance to the school. The new classrooms took a similar form to the original school building with tall gables and feature windows and were linked to the listed building with a fully glazed resources area. Finally the large hall building took the background, allowing its large mass to be partially hidden by the existing school and the new classrooms. A glazed lantern to the top of the hall roof diminished it’s volume further.
Traditional materials were used throughout the extension, including clay tiles, timber cladding and rendered walls, but were executed in a contemporary manner. This approach to materiality allowed the new extensions to blend in with the local identity and character of the village at the same time as celebrating the fact that the building components were built in quite different centuries.
The resulting building successfully enhanced the original listed school house and sat comfortably in the AONB, whilst providing the local children with a high quality learning environment.