Walters & Cohen Architects balances industrial heritage with contemporary design at the new International College for The King's School, Canterbury.
In 2016, The King’s School in Canterbury asked London-based practice, Walters & Cohen Architects, to undertake a feasibility study for a 1.25-hectare ex-industrial site on the edge of Canterbury’s city centre.
The study resulted in an updated masterplan for the site that includes an International College, staff housing, and a sports court with changing facilities. It also included a new drama centre and theatre in the 19th-century Malthouse building, which was undertaken by another practice.
The scheme was granted consent with unanimous support from the City of Canterbury’s planning committee in March 2017.
Walters & Cohen Architects developed designs for a three-storey building that wraps around a private courtyard. It was crucial that the new building complemented the site’s industrial heritage as well as the existing buildings surrounding it; achieved with a striking mixture of weathered concrete and glass.
The landscape complements and connects the many elements of the site; a civic square shared with the Malthouse is an important focal point of the campus. Domestic gardens bound two other sides of the College building, while, to the north, the new sports court will be used by the College, King's School and local community, creating a diverse and connected school community, integrated with the historic surroundings.
The building comprises 34 ensuite bedrooms with boarding for 80 students, several flats for staff, classrooms, and specialist teaching facilities. The classrooms are fully equipped, flexible places allowing for a mixture of traditional learning, digital research, personal interaction and discussion.
The International College teaches students aged 11-16, acting as a stepping-stone for those entering the English school system from abroad.
Cindy Walters, Director at Walters & Cohen Architects, said:
“We are so pleased to see the students and teachers settling in well and enjoying their new building. It was absolutely crucial for us that the new International College became a seamless addition to the school very quickly, and that the design sits neatly within the landscape of the existing site."
Cindy added: "Many of the facilities act as a home from home for the students, so we needed to create spaces where they could live, study and socialise as comfortably as possible. As an international college, communal spaces where students can meet and interact with their fellow students are very important, which is why we designed the building to wrap around a central courtyard space, with corridors that look out onto it. Many of the students gather here as a meeting place, and use it for open-air presentations, plays and recitals. It is a joy to see.”