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City of London Freemen’s Main House \

Grade II* listed mansion refurbishment

A Grade II* listed mansion building at the heart of City of London Freemen’s school requires modernisation to allow it to thrive into a sixth form centre. To maintain its first class standards and the City’s role as a premier provider of private education, the visionary sixth form facilities will inherently prepare students for the unknown future, not teaching them what to do but how to do it, enabling them to get ahead of the game.

The challenge

The challenge was to carefully unpick previous phases of insensitive adjustments to the building, while proposing internal interventions that would raise the standard of the school’s academic provisions. The proposals provide flexible and progressive learning environments that respond to the educational change and foster collaborative working and independent thought. The scheme creates facilities for Sixth Form study by providing a variety of spaces; Harkness Rooms, Quiet Study Areas, a formal library and project rooms compliment flexible teaching spaces.

We have really enjoyed peeling back layers of history and showing the client the rich heritage items that have been hidden from view for decades.

The big idea

Following extensive consultation and a thorough review of the building, it is proposed to remove much of the post-Victorian interventions. The careful insertion of two new escape stairs alleviates the façade of some unsightly fire escape stairs added during the 20th Century and unlocks the plan creating flexible open plan learning areas. Thoughtfully designed furniture will allow these spaces to be used to teach a variety of subjects as well as allow the Sixth formers to gather and study in a manner that most suits their learning style.

The small detail

We will be casting an in-situ concrete stair to create a new internal fire escape that takes inspiration from the original cantilevered Georgian staircase.

Working from the inside out

The main house, Georgian in style, has seen a series of developments through its history. This most notably can be seen with the addition of Victorian decoration. These features are a sign of technological development as well as prestige and affluence at the time. The colour selection will complement and enhance the existing historical features within the space. This supports the aspiration to maintain the history of the architecture while unities all the various additions over time.

The bigger picture

Alongside the Main House refurbishment we have been helping City of London Freemen’s develop a masterplan for the next 10 years. We have recently finished a RIBA award winning swimming pool on the site as well as a music school and boarding house.

Project Summary

  • Project name: City of London Freemen’s Main House
  • Location: Surrey, UK
  • Value: 13m
  • Type: Refurbishment, Restoration
  • Client: City of London Freemen's School
  • Completion date: 2020

Project Team

Landscape Architect:BD Landscape
Structural Engineer:Eckersley O’Callaghan
M&E Engineer:Skelly & Couch
Conservation Architect:James Mackintosh Architects
QS Consultant:Mott Macdonald
Funding Client:City of London Corporation

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