Chesham Grammar School

Architect: Kirkland Fraser Moor Architects
Location: Chesham
Completion: Due 2014

This new sixth form centre of excellence comprises a total overhaul of the existing sixth form building and a new extension to provide the large open spaces badly needed by the school. As is often the case, however, tight budget constraints meant that a close control was needed on the design and every scrap of efficiency needed to be squeezed out of the existing and new structures.

The existing building is a pre-war structure with small, broken up spaces and disproportionately large amount of circulation space. Ad hoc modifications over the years had led to stepped floor levels, cracking walls and an ill-fitting extension/link to the main school building.

A full structural assessment of the existing building was carried out to establish what structural measures were required to remove each internal wall. Different combinations of wall removal and the resulting spaces were then examined with the architectural team and QS in order to optimise the balance between structural work/cost and ultimate benefit for the school.

The other aspect of this project was an extension needed to a 1980's building in order to generate a large cafe/study space. The vast new space incorporates extensive, full-height glass walls, large skylights and a column-free floor plan. In addition to supporting itself, the structure for the extension also needed to support and stabilise the existing building as its entire north wall was removed as part of the development.