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Brand New Flagship Building for the American School in London

Five years after winning the competition to design a new arts building for the American School at its St John’s Wood campus, London-based architectural practice Walters & Cohen has completed the construction of this ambitious four-storey building. It replaces the form and volume of a demolished large semi-detached St John’s Wood villa that stood previously on the site, adjacent to a listed building and within a conservation area. The new building contains a multi-purpose art room, photography studio, dark room, ceramics, design studio and art studios.

Five years after winning the competition to design a new arts building for the American School at its St John’s Wood campus, London-based architectural practice Walters & Cohen has completed the construction of this ambitious four-storey building. It replaces the form and volume of a demolished large semi-detached St John’s Wood villa that stood previously on the site, adjacent to a listed building and within a conservation area. The new building contains a multi-purpose art room, photography studio, dark room, ceramics, design studio and art studios.

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The façade is a sculptural piece of design made of fluted stone panels forming a frame around a huge window. The result is a ‘unique design that draws on the elegance and traditional qualities of the stone, expressed in a truly contemporary manner’, the architects said. The fluted decoration of the stone surface gives a subtle relief pattern with light playing on the façade, flattening and disguising the flute pattern or expressing it boldly.

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The impressive façade give us an idea of what to expect inside: the ground floor provides exhibition space, while the other three floors host art, sculpture, ceramics and photography studios, all with light, bright and configurable spaces to fit the needs of the School. An elegant concrete frame provides long span, column-free studio space at all levels, bringing in daylight from the north and south, and providing a flexible, spacious and comfortable environment in which pupils can develop their creativity.

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The challenges addressed by Walters & Cohen were threefold: firstly, to relocate the art department and create a flagship building for the school; secondly, to support a busy curriculum with modern teaching methods and new technical needs; and finally, to engineer a clear and open structure, despite bridging the mainline tunnel into Marylebone station. To succeed, Walters & Cohen worked closely with the client, Westminster planners, engineers Price and Myers, and stonemasons McConnell and Sons.

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The result is stunning: The Portuguese limestone façade, accented with architectural bronze and glass, and fluted to create an ever-changing pattern, encloses open-plan interiors flooded with daylight from two sides where natural rubber and timber floors, white plastered walls and movable units make the spaces flexible and pleasant to work in.

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The American School in London is a long-established, international, private and independent K-12 school located in St John’s Wood, London, whose mission is to develop the intellect and character of each student by providing an outstanding American education with a global perspective, all of which is highlighted with this new flagship arts building by Walters & Cohen.

 

Credits

Photography credits: ©Dennis Gilbert/VIEW, Marcus Peel