Bristol Grammar School
Situated in a conservation area, many of the projects carried out for Bristol Grammar School (BGS) had to address two big challenges: the dramatic slope across the site and the lack of space. We have built extensions, undertaken conversions, re-orientated buildings and tested the feasibility of many more ideas.
Extending the Lower School
Built originally as the Headmaster’s house, then used for teaching, it had the familiar hallmarks of Victorian school architecture. A maze of dark corridors and bad circulation created an inefficient use of space and a low-quality image. Our redesign opened up the layout and harnessed dead space for extra facilities. The entrance hall was transformed into a resource centre and library – creating a colourful focal point for modern learning. Glass and aluminium were balanced by warm timber, marrying contemporary architecture with a historic building. The whole project had to be designed carefully so it could be built quickly during school holidays, minimising disruption.
David Collyer, Bursar
To gain additional space, BGS purchased all the detached villas facing the School across Elton Road. Our first project was to design a masterplan showing how the villas could be made an integral part of the School. We developed plans showing safe road crossings and landscaping to link the buildings together. Over the succeeding years we converted the houses to education use, each one to suit a faculty. By digging out basements we were able to achieve larger teaching spaces.
Masterplan: The Hub
SRA were appointed by the School to design their largest new building: a new Sixth Form Centre, Learning Resource Centre and Arts Department. The immediate problem was that there was no space to build it. By developing a masterplan we established where the hidden opportunities were. We recognised the potential of a large development site in the heart of the campus, next to the listed Main Building. Despite the challenges of building so close to a Victorian Grade 2* listed building, we prepared a contemporary design for The Hub with a new grass quadrangle. The designs achieved everything the School hoped for. Planning and listed building consent were achieved at the first attempt.
Main Building improvements
For more than 100 years the Main Building’s only entrance faced north, turning its back first on the playing fields, and later on the rest of the campus. We formed a new entrance in the south elevation of the Main Building. Designed in the same Victorian style as the rest of the building, it looked like it should have been there from the start, according to the Headmaster. Bristol Grammar School has the largest school assembly hall in the country. Unfortunately, increasingly onerous fire regulations had limited its capacity to 450 people. With careful thinking and subtle alteration, we secured Building Regulations consent for the capacity to increase to 1,200.