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“Adjoining it are a café and a staff dining room and out-of-school-hours bar”


rebuilt in three main phases. To a large extent, those were dictated by the academic year, and we aimed to complete each phase at the beginning of the summer holiday to give the school time to put in furniture and get people used to the new environment.” The final phase was handed over in July 2009. The three-storey


building can accommodate around 1000 pupils. It has been constructed in a ‘U’ shape around an internal atrium courtyard, which forms a large open central area that provides circulation space and other functions. The sports hall has been retained and now forms one side of the


courtyard, which can be used as a teaching space and a break-time area. Adjoining it are a café and a staff dining room and out-of-school-hours bar. “All circulation areas operate from here, and the two main


staircases come up in the atrium,” says Paul. “Everything is very open and the atrium is extremely light. Then on the upper floors are classrooms off the balcony walkways. “I believe Chessington is one of the first schools in the country


to have an atrium. After discussions with the school, the architects decided to create something more akin to a business environment than a traditional school. These are secondary school age pupils, not primary, and it’s giving them a feel for what they’re going to encounter in their working lives.” Facilities include classrooms, language laboratories and science


labs, as well as a theatre and a dance studio also used in the evenings by drama groups and keep fit classes from the local community – which can also make use of the sports hall and the floodlit multi-use games area. There are two computer suites and all classrooms have interactive whiteboards and facilities for all pupils to use computers. “The school has a design technology facility and runs


construction courses, which is fairly unusual for a secondary school,” says Paul. “Youngsters learn to bricklay, cut timber and that type of thing. Our project was of great interest to them and there were regular site visits when we shut down at the end of the day. Willmott Dixon often gave a couple of hours with tradesmen to teach them the principles of bricklaying and joinery. “The construction industry doesn’t do as much as it might to


bring young people through, but this experience gave younger pupils the thought that there is a good living to be made out there – though it’s still a predominantly male world.” The new school’s frame and floor planks are prefabricated


reinforced concrete – which saved time and manpower in a tight schedule and avoided the difficulties of on-site fabrication in a confined space. The external elevations have glazed brickwork at ground floor level, in colours to differentiate the teaching areas, while the upper areas have aluminium rain-screen cladding. Internal walls are metal stud partitioning that gives flexibility to


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