The Mitchell Building at Skinners’ School, Tunbridge Wells Architecture, Best New Kent Education Property Project
The Mitchell Building at Skinners’ School, Kent, UK
23 June 2022
RIBA Awards 2022 Winning Buildings and Architects
This Tunbridge Wells building is one of the 29 winners of the 2022 RIBA National Awards for architecture:
4 May 2022
Seven projects have been awarded Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Southeast Awards.
The Mitchell Building at Skinners’ School, Kent, south east England, UK
Design: Bell Phillips Architects
Address: St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 9PG
The Mitchell Building at Skinners’ School, Kent, England
Love it or hate it, the ‘Gothic Revival’ of the 19th century has left an architectural legacy in this country that is particularly marked in educational buildings. The Skinners’ School is such a place, its core buildings forming a muscular and evocative red-brick backdrop to the main playground.
How to respond to such a setting? Bell Phillips Architects have chosen to create a contemporary building that is successful in both speaking to the forms and materials of the Victorian buildings whilst also mediating between the wider town and the interior life of the school. It does this in a quietly urbane manner – the building is a simple L-shape in plan, with a tall pointed gable at each end of the ‘L’: one gable faces the town, the other overlooks the playground.
The building’s simple geometric forms are softened by the use of a gentle red brick, and enlivened by the use of a sawtooth brick motif that gives a ‘corrugated’ character to the walls, creating a play of light and shadow that echoes the surface decoration of the earlier buildings. This reading is further enhanced by the vertical proportions of the glazing, and by the portico that shelters one end of the playground and leads into the main entrance and stair.
The new building was created to allow the school to expand to five form entry and houses the English department, the school library and sixth form centre. The top-lit stair links these spaces together, culminating in the top floor library – a dramatic space with a timber lined ceiling following the steep pitch of the roof. Flooded with natural light, this space creates a wonderful learning environment, and has large windows overlooking the main road into the town, emphasising the school’s strong local connections.
The building helps to reorder the school campus while responding to the relationships between the oldest buildings, and demonstrates how an ‘architect’s eye’ can understand what makes a place and how to enhance its character.
RIBA region: Southeast
Architect practice: Bell Phillips Architects
Date of completion: Nov 2020
Date of occupation: Nov 2020
Client company name: The Skinners’ School
Project city/town: Tunbridge Wells
Gross internal area: 1,187.00 m²
Net internal area: 1,187.00 m²
Contractor company name: BBS Construction Ltd
Structural Engineers: Built Engineers
Environmental / M&E Engineers: Hilson Moran
Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant: Gleeds
Transport Consultant: RGP
Right to Light Assessor: Deloitte Real Estate
Geotechnical Surveyor: Ground Engineering
• RIBA Regional Award
• Regional Award Short List
2022 RIBA Southeast Award Winners
Address: St John’s Rd, Tunbridge Wells TN4 9PG, England, UK
Phone: 01892 520732
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RIBA Southeast Awards
RIBA Southeast Awards Archive
Location: Southeast England, UK
RIBA Awards Past Winners
RIBA Awards Winning Buildings + Architects
English Architecture Designs – chronological list
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