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Walters & Cohen extends Reigate School with library and sixth form centre

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The new red-brick Harrison Centre, described as the ‘knot in the bow tie’ of the private school’s Surrey site, links its two main parts, with spaces for studying, socialising and lunch

Funded by the Peter Harrison Foundation, Walters & Cohen’s new library and sixth form centre for Reigate Grammar School in Surrey is designed to reflect the materials, massing and pitched-roof typology of the Victorian school estate. With the school previously spread across two sites, the Harrison Centre creates a link and serves as the first stage of a broader masterplan for the co-ed private school of about 900 students.

A sixth form centre occupies the ground floor of the three-storey, 1,620m² red-brick building with spaces for studying, socialising and lunch. On the second and third floors, the library has been acoustically treated to allow different groups of students to work simultaneously. Both desks and comfortable furniture are provided to create a range of working environments. 

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Rgs dgil 0012

The pitched roof of the top-lit library above is supported with an exposed, glulam timber-shell truss system which spans the full 12m width of the building. The truss system creates a column-free floor space in the library and is designed to create a sense of openness, connecting the study space with classrooms and offices on either side.  

Architect’s view

The Harrison Centre connects one side of the school to the other and creates a generous forecourt of civic space. When developing the design with our client, we discussed how students like to work and how we could achieve the right balance of formal and informal spaces. The building creates a studious and calm environment for individual study, small group meetings and quiet socialising. We are delighted that so many students choose to study in the library, sometimes even in school holidays.

Cindy Walters, director, Walters & Cohen Architects

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Rgs dgil 0017

Client’s view

The Harrison Centre is so much more than a new building. It is everything we planned for in terms of how it performs for the school, with almost every pupil passing through its doors at least once every school day. It now effectively joins up our split site – we call it the knot in our bow tie. What we had not realised was how it would also become the heart of the school. The external landscaping has extended the footprint of the building to include the Cross of Sacrifice which has been restored to its original condition. The new Portland stone wall that surrounds it, the 1.5m yew hedging and the planting of many new trees, create an environment to be enjoyed by both the school and the local community.

Steve Douty, bursar, Reigate Grammar School


Site plan

Site plan


Project Data

Start on site January 2016
January 2018
Gross (internal + external) floor area 1,620m2
Form of contract Traditional contract with the external works as a separate contract.
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Walters & Cohen
Client Reigate Grammar School
Structural engineer AKT II
M&E consultant Max Fordham
Quantity surveyor Holloway Squire Partnership
Lighting consultant Max Fordham
Planning consultant Blue Sky Planning
Sustainability consultant 
Eight Associates
Landscape consultant Rummey Design 
Acoustic consultant Max Fordham
Project manager Holloway Squire Partnership
Main contractor Beard Construction
CAD software used Vectorworks 


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