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Eton College science faculty reworked by CSK Architects

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Three distinct department buildings have been refurbished and extended around a new shared four-storey space 

Following a limited competition, CSK Architects was appointed to create an integrated science faculty with full accessibility provided at all levels for the three departments, biology, chemistry and physics, which have been reorganised horizontally across the whole complex.

The three existing buildings, which sit within the Eton Conservation Area, are collectively known as Queen’s Schools. These consist of a Victorian building designed by Arthur Blomfield, a 1950s building by Lord Holford and a 1980s Ove Arup building, all three of which are now linked by a new four-storey central foyer, incorporating exhibition and display space, and across which concrete and glass bridges connect teaching spaces.

The project included the fit-out of 27 laboratories and the addition of two new laboratories in a new-build chemistry pavilion. Front and rear courtyards were also remodelled to create external teaching spaces and a new rooftop pavilion on the Holford Building creates a space for experimental teaching, with a focus on renewable energy and biodiversity.



Architect’s view

One of the main ambitions for the new science buildings at Eton College was to create a shared ‘critical space’ at its heart – a space of social encounter and informal discourse that brings together the three separate science departments, and creates a sense of identity for the faculty as a whole.  This has been achieved in the form of a dramatic vertical foyer that splices together the three horizontally structured science departments, comprising concrete and glass bridges, display cabinets and natural history exhibits, a triple-height hanging mobile, multiple new views into surrounding classrooms, and selected fragments of the original buildings from which this quadruple-height space has been wrought.

The proposals at Queen’s Schools, the remodelled entrance courtyard, the new atrium and the new roof pavilion have all been developed to create an inclusive sustainable architecture which provides the opportunity to achieve a greater connection to place, and so change the way in which students study, experience the department and interact with one another. Careful consideration has been paid to the process of how students move through the department and the improved circulation has driven the design of the proposals. The central atrium creates areas for different speeds and levels of activity, from quiet contemplation to the dynamism and excitement of larger exhibition areas.

Throughout the building the passage of time is celebrated not masked. The very nature of science charts progress developed over time, and in the same way the history of the buildings and the way in which the college has evolved should be evident. The passage of time adds a sense of delight, not decay to architecture through weathering, patina, adaption and use.

Dido Milne, director, CSK Architects and Mairi Morse, associate, CSK Architects

Queen's schools dwg ground floor plan

Queen’s schools dwg ground floor plan

Client’s view

We had wrestled for a number of years as how to make the frankly rather dowdy science department buildings more contemporary and stimulating. Not only did they seem stuck in the Victorian era but they also struggled to meet the demands of a contemporary science curriculum and the capacity demanded by the many more boys opting to take sciences. CSK met the brief wonderfully and we now have a building that has a palpable sense of excitement right from the point of arrival.

Ian Mellor, buildings & facilities director, Eton College

Queen's schools dwg section aa

Queen’s schools dwg section aa

Source: CSK Architects

Section AA

Project data

Start on site August 2016
Completion August 2019
Gross internal floor area 5,12 m2
Form of contract or procurement route Standard Building Contract With Quantities 2011
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect CSK Architects
Client Eton College
Structural engineer Price & Myers
M&E consultant ME Engineers
QS Ridge and Partners LLP
Flood risk consultant Peter Brett Associates
Ecological consultant Green Space Ecological Solutions
Landscape consultant Tim Moya Associates
Acoustic consultant RBA Acoustics Ltd
CDM coordinator QS Associates Ltd
Approved building inspector Regional Building Control Ltd
Main contractor Beard Construction
On-site energy generation 25,800kWh/yr (projected)
Airtightness at 50pa 7m3/h.m2  
CAD software used AutoCAD 

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