Nicholas Hare Architects recently completed the new Science Building at St Paul's School. We were appointed in 2006 to develop the masterplan and first phase buildings for the redevelopment of the school on its prominent site on the Barnes peninsula on the south bank of the River Thames in London. The four-storey building creates a new courtyard and entrance to the school and provides 18 state-of-the-art laboratories to replace the existing science department, which academically is one of the best in the country.
A palette of high quality, durable materials has been used. Handset British sandstone and buff coloured brickwork are juxtaposed with large areas of glazing, bronze anodised aluminium windows and rainscreen cladding. Precast concrete is used to form circular columns and an undulating vaulted soffit to the courtyard colonnade. Brickwork is built without movement joints using lime mortar, and is massive in its construction: piers provide 450mm deep window reveals, and flat brick arches above are traditionally constructed using 50mm bricks.
Maximising daylight and minimising mechanical ventilation and cooling has been a priority. Deep window reveals and solar shading louvres minimise unwanted solar gains, and the building's concrete frame is left exposed to provide thermal mass. A bespoke biodiverse brown roof provides new species habitats and attenuates rainwater run-off, contributing to the sustainable drainage strategy. The building is designed within the overall environmental strategy of the masterplan, which targets a BREEAM 'excellent' rating, and includes biomass boilers in the next phase.