Valley Park School, Maidstone
Valley Park School is a typical post-war secondary school, with teaching and ancillary accommodation that was not built for 21st Century teaching standards. The school have undergone many years of transformation with their building stock and, after the construction of a new 6 court sports hall, decided to re-purpose the original gymnasium.
The original gym was an 11 x 18m brick-built, flat-roofed building with changing accommodation and offices. It was decided that the best use for the old gym was to re-purpose it to create a new refectory and kitchen. The inherent design of the existing gymnasium with a ceiling height in excess of 6m, has helped to create a wonderful volume in the new refectory. The absence of windows and daylight was addressed by the introduction of full height screens and doors facing onto an external hard-landscaped break-out space. This, together with a bank of deep windows to one side, has transformed the space. With a new suspended ceiling, plasterboard wall finishes and a new floor covering, the students now enjoy a dining experience that befits this forward-thinking school.
An attached steel framed structure housed the changing facilities, showers and offices. The re-design removed 75% of the internal walls and a new kitchen/server was formed. The latest equipment has been fitted which ensures a quality product for the students at a time when student nutrition is often under discussion.
Externally the two adjoining structures were completely different. The gym had brown brickwork walls and the changing area was black painted weatherboard. In conjunction with the senior team at the school we decided that a through-colour render would best replace the drab and weathered brickwork, whilst a modern composite cladding by Ecoscape would add crisp lines and verticality to a subservient and poorly proportioned ancillary building.
The feedback from both staff and students has been fantastic making the project all the more worthwhile.
Thanks go to the design team, including B & M quantity surveyors and SWECO, services consultant. Also to main contractors Bauvill and finally to the school for their involvement with the team.
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