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Back to square one: Marlborough College scraps latest Newton building contest

Tim Ronalds Architects' winning design for Marlborough College
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Marlborough College has abandoned its latest Newton building competition – three years after Tim Ronalds Architects won an earlier contest for the Grade II-listed Art Deco structure

The Wiltshire private school confirmed it had ‘gone back to the drawing board’ following an invited competition which concluded without a team being appointed.

It is understood Orms, Allies and Morrison and Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt Architects with Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt were invited to participate in the contest, which sought ideas to renew and upgrade the 1934 WG Newton-designed building, which is home to Marlborough’s science departments.

The school’s director of estates, Bill Roe, said essential roof repairs would now be carried out while the long-term future of the building was reviewed.

In 2014 Tim Ronalds Architects saw off competition from teams led by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Nicholas Hare Architects, Orms and Sarah Wigglesworth Architects to win an earlier Malcolm Reading Consultants-organised contest for a £10 million overhaul of the existing building (see AJ 03.12.15).

Fourteen practices were originally invited in mid-2014 to submit in the contest for the college, which counts Kate Middleton and William Morris among its former pupils. Designed by WG Newton, the science block is an early example of shuttered concrete construction and was given heritage protection in 1970.

Tim Ronalds Architects’ winning scheme featured a glass atrium linking to a new wing of flexible science spaces, while white walls and windows were designed to ‘echo those of the Newton building to create a unified complex’.

Tim Ronalds Architects' winning design for Marlborough College

Tim Ronalds Architects’ winning design for Marlborough College

Tim Ronalds Architects’ winning design for Marlborough College

After winning the contest the practice was invited to draw up alternative plans for a new build science block elsewhere within the school’s grounds. This project responding to a revised brief was however abandoned in favour of a second invited contest, held earlier this year, focusing on the original building.

The decision to abandon the latest competition has raised eyebrows among teams who participated in the two competitions but no parties would comment on the record.

Allies and Morrison is currently working on a new dormitory block for the school, while Diamond Schmitt Architects with Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt is delivering an ambitious overhaul of its historic Memorial Hall.

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