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18 THE SKINNERS’ SCHOOL, TUNBRIDGE WELLS


PROJECT FACTFILE


Architect: Bell Phillips Architects Client: The Skinners’ School M&E/fire consultant: Hilson Moran Structural engineer: Built Engineers Building contractor: BBS Construction Quantity surveyor: Gleeds Transport consultant: RGP Rights to light assessor: Waldrams Geotechnical surveyor: Ground Engineering Glazing: Velfac


Structural fabrication: IG Lintels Bricks: Traditional Brick & Stone Timber: North Quay Trading FF&E: Serota/Oasis Design Gross floor area: 1,187 m2 Cost: £3.25m


school holidays. “There had to be a lot of collaboration between us, the contractors and the school in terms of when the majority of the more intensive works could be done, and how that could be framed around keeping the children safe,” Ly says. Work began onsite in April 2019 and ended up clashing with exams only a few weeks into the programme, so the practice worked with the school on relocating exam halls away from the site. The practice had the additional hurdle of completing the project while working under Covid restrictions. “We were lucky our contractor was very aware, and planned ahead as much as they could,” Ly explains. The main obstacle came in being unable to order materials, which along with other “compounded issues” added around eight months to the programme. The completion date was eventually reworked to October 2020. This allowed the school to start moving in during the October 2020 half term, while the contractor finished the landscaping (completing in January). Ly says that in order to facilitate this


phased completion, the architects had to work closely with the client and contractor to devise a strategy which would allow construction to continue, while simultaneously allowing free movement around the building, in the context of Covid. He comments: “Collaboration during these final few months was absolutely key.” Despite lockdowns and school closures, the teachers – who the practice also consulted heavily with in order to provide what they required in the classrooms – and students were “keen on jumping in and starting to use the building,” says Ly. They have been in classes as much as restrictions have allowed, since the building’s completion. “It’s been very well received, they seem to be enjoying it,” says the architect. However, the practice also notes that the new addition has been warmly received by locals, as well as the client. “I think the school are very proud of it,” adds Bell. “It’s been a really good learning process, and we’re keen to do more education jobs.” He concludes: “We enjoy a challenge, so it’s exactly what we wanted.” 


WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


ADF JUNE 2021


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