Wynch Cottage, Bishop’s Stortford College\

Giving new life to a 19th century building

Phase one of a site-wide masterplan; a cross-laminated timber extension to an existing arts & crafts building, providing new day facilities, study spaces, and external breakout space.

As part of a site-wide masterplan, the project relocated and enhanced one of the College’s day houses in order to unlock a site designated for two new boarding houses and day house. The existing day house was beyond its working life, and was in need of an upgrade to meet the modern requirements of a day house. The proposals sought to re-purpose and enhance an existing arts & crafts building on the campus via a new extension. The original 1800’s building was retained and refurbished, with a contemporary extension with exposed CLT and double height spaces.

The challenge

During the masterplanning exercise, we helped identify the potential of a previously overlooked asset on the College grounds, which then unlocked the main site for the College’s major project; two new boarding houses and day house. The scheme required a sensitive and considered approach to the conservation of the existing Cottage in the conservation area, whilst providing bright, modern, flexible spaces for the College.

The big idea

The project was driven by the need to retain the existing building, whilst maximising the potential for flexible, open space for the day house. The extension utilises a CLT folded-plate roof to create large spans to the social spaces, whilst providing a sensitive form that compliments the arts & crafts cottage. Charred timber reflects the local vernacular, and offers a sustainable and low maintenance solution for the College.

The new extension features exposed CLT and services in order to minimise costs, and provides a robust, contemporary finish to the social and study spaces.


for the CLT installation to complete

Working from the inside out

The interior design was driven by the need for a robust approach to the finishes and fittings. Space for house awards and presentations was included in the brief, and the house colours are featured in the building.

Where are we now?

The project has been occupied during the development of the following phases, and provides a 1:1 test of the concepts developed along side the College; the use of double height social spaces and flexible study areas, to the innovative cladding to reduce maintenance.

  • Project Details
  • Lessons Learnt
  • Materials
  • Sustainability

Project Summary

  • Project name: Wynch Cottage, Bishop’s Stortford College
  • Location: Hertfordshire, UK
  • Sector: Education & Research
  • Value: £1.1m
  • Type: Refurbishment
  • Client: Bishop’s Stortford College
  • Status: Complete
  • Completion date: 2016

Project Team

Landscape Architect: BD Landscape
Structural Engineer: Smith & Wallwork
Services Engineer: Norman Bromley Partnership
Quantity Surveyor: Artelia
Main Contractor: Hutton Construction Ltd


  • RIBA East Awards 2019 - Regional Award - Shortlisted
  • RIBA Awards 2017 - East Regional Award - Shortlisted

Lessons Learnt

The delivery required close collaboration with the design team and contractor in order to accommodate the existing building. The CLT structure was pre-fabricated off site following a detailed survey of the stripped out building, allowing for a close-fit that minimised delay due to site tolerances.


The CLT structure is independent to the existing masonry cottage, which forms the internal lining to the double height foyer. The charred timber sits sensitively behind the existing rendered Cottage, with the folded plate roof providing a contemporary pitched form to the main road.


The re-use of the existing asset reduced the amount of new-build to achieve the brief requirements, leading to a sustainable approach to development across the site. Insulation and new windows were installed to improve the fabric performance and air tightness, reducing the energy demands for the College. Energy efficient LED lighting is used throughout.

The use of low carbon CLT construction also meant a reduced below ground structure, and through exposing the timber the need for additional linings and materials was reduced.

The building is naturally vented throughout, with shading to the larger areas of glazing to reduce overheating in summer. Windows to the changing rooms are concealed behind the timber cladding to allow windows to be opened whilst maintaining privacy.

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