Walters & Cohen has completedthe second part of a two-phase development project at The King’s School, a prestigious, co-educational independent school for over 800 pupils aged 13-18. Founded in 597AD, the school is situated within the magnificent setting in the Precincts ofCanterbury Cathedral and adjacent to the historic city wall, a Scheduled Monument.
In early 2014, Walters & Cohen won an invited competition to design new boarding accommodation for the school which was looking to increase pupil numbers and strengthen its co-educational balance by enhancing provision for girl boarders with an additional 50-60 places.
Phase 1 comprised the refurbishment of the Grade II listed Butterfield building and Master’s House to create boarding accommodation for 30 pupils of Kingsdown House, a new girls’ boarding House,and includes a common room, quiet study area, kitchen and ‘brew’ areas. This was completed in time for the new school year in 2015.
Phase 2 of the projectrecently completed, was the construction of a new buildingfor older pupils of Kingsdown House. The site was acquired by The King’s School as part of a larger masterplan project; close to the existing campus, adjacent to the city wall and with fine views of the Cathedral, it offered the opportunity to create a new relationship and interaction between contemporary design and the historic setting. Different options were explored for the new building footprint, its position on site, height, composition and roofscape, in close consultation with Canterbury City Council, Historic England and members of the public.
The design is of a gabled, two-storey building with rooms in the roof, accommodating 23 single study bedrooms, and housing the 6th form girls who require a more private and quiet setting to study for exams. A modest, single storey element connects to the Butterfield building with a framelessglass link joiningthem to the new accommodation building and allowing views out towards the city wall.
The new building is clad in handmade clay tiles, drawing on local architecture and construction techniques,whilethe building’s elegant profile and gabled roof complement the features of its neighbours.The dormer windows allow additional rooms to be located in the roof without raising the height of the building. This was a crucial consideration in order not to intrude on theexisting rooflines which form part of the historic setting. The use of claytiles also allows the continuous stone plane of the Butterfield building, Master’s House and the street wall to retain its prominence.
The landscape was conceived as an integral part of the design, offering spaces for study and socialising, with views towards the Cathedral. The design draws on the historic gardens beside the city wall and aims to revive the relationship between the two. It provides a series of connected external spaces of different character, allowing routes through, seating and a balance between soft and hard landscaping.
‘The King’s School, Canterbury has simply loved working with Cindy Walters and the design team on Kingsdown House, which 55 teenage girls can now call home.
The house comprises the newly refurbished Grade II listed William Butterfield building and its modern annex designed by Walters & Cohen, located just beyond the Precincts walls of Canterbury Cathedral. Particularly special is the houseroom, a social hub in the spacious loft space of the Butterfield’s high-pitched roof. Here, a mezzanine cunningly provides space for reading and relaxing, while, below, the house community can eat, chat, watch television and come together for house meetings. The courtyard gardens, designed by Brita at Bradley-Hole Schoenaich Landscape, include a Kent crab apple tree chosen by Lady Rose Kingsdown, the honorand of the house. Everything – the landscape, the design, the sensitive choice of materials – has come together in harmony to create an aesthetically striking and inspiring boarding house that is traditional and modern; a comfortable homely environment but one that is also conducive to study. The Housemistress, Matron and Tutors have all said it is as if the house has always been there; so cleverly do the designs talk to the historic buildings on both the Cathedral and the Broad Street sides. Lady Rose Kingsdown remarked at the grand opening that every pupil and member of the house team shares a sense of pride in the stunning new creation and loved showing visitors around!’ Peter Roberts, Headmaster The King’s School