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Kilburn Nightingale wins planning for St Paul’s school addition

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Work has started on Kilburn Nightingale Architects’ new boarding house for St Paul’s Cathedral School in the City of London

The practice secured planning consent for the scheme more than two years ago but construction work on the three-storey addition to the world-famous site could not begin until funding was secured.

Pillars will be used to raise the building, which will provide accommodation for the cathedral’s choristers, above the school’s playground. The scheme will stand in the former nave of St Augustine’s Church, which was burned down in the Great Fire in 1666 before its Christopher Wren-designed replacement suffered severe bomb damage during the Second World War.

Kilburn Nightingale will also demolish and replace a 1980s dining hall extension, designed by Architects’ Co-partnership, the roof of which will become additional play space.

The new buildings will be clad predominantly in Portland stone, echoing the Grade II*-listed 1960s boarding house buildings, also designed by Architects’ Co-partnership, as well as St Augustine’s Tower and, not least, St Paul’s Cathedral itself.

Kilburn Nightingale co-founder Ben Kilburn said: ‘We are honoured to be working in the vicinity of one of the best known architectural landmarks in the world and to be filling the gap left by the war-time destruction of the main body of St Augustine’s Church with a new building providing much-needed additional space for the school.

‘Our aim was to find a sensitive architectural language that would connect the new building both with Wren’s restrained Baroque church tower and the classic Brutalism of the adjacent 1960s school buildings.’

St Paul’s Cathedral School headmaster Simon Larter-Evans said: ‘We look forward to transforming the school and ensuring the continuation of sung worship at St Paul’s Cathedral through the 21st century and beyond.

’The new boarding house will also prove an outstanding opportunity for sharing our music-making expertise with visiting choirs.’

Architectural Press archive riba collections architects co partnership st pauls cathedral school

Architectural press archive riba collections architects co partnership st pauls cathedral school

Source: Photo 1974. Architectural Press Archive/RIBA Collections

Tower of St Augustine and the adjacent St Paul’s Cathedral Choir School, New Change, City of London (Architects Co-Partnership, 1967)

Caroe Architecture gets green light for ramped entrance to St Paul’s Cathedral

The City of London and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England have granted permission for a ramped entrance to St Paul’s Cathedral.

Caroe Architecture – the practice of the cathedral’s appointed surveyor of the fabric, Oliver Caroe – will create two ramps at either side of an existing staircase to the north transept door of the iconic ecclesiastical building.

Renowned architect Christopher Wren designed the current St Paul’s Cathedral after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. Caroe’s new entrance will use Portland stone, the same material chosen by Wren.

At present, an accessible lift gives step-free access to the cathedral floor, which is 3.3m above street level, with temporary ramps used for highly attended events and services.

Input into the design of the new ramped entrance was sought from a range of statutory consultees, heritage groups and access organisations.

Stonemasonry was developed in the form of an enhanced plinth to the north transept portico, with a fine-fluted finish to the vertical surfaces of the Portland Stone and a swept detail at the junction of the walls to the grey granite paving.

Caroe st pauls steps

A handrail and balustrade will be formed in aluminium bronze to allow a wide spacing of structural members. This will maximise the visual permeability of the balustrade so that the column bases of Wren’s portico can be read.

David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s, said: ‘When St Paul’s was being rebuilt 300 years ago there was no concept of equal access. Wren built the cathedral in classical style with steps on all sides.

‘In the 21st century the difficulties that some people have in accessing this church are unacceptable and we are setting out to create an easy and equal way into St Paul’s for all people, all the time.

‘The granting of consent and start of construction for this project after many years of thought and consultation shows that, with sufficient commitment, even challenging heritage environments such as St Paul’s can be made more accessible.’

Caroe said: ‘A project to install a permanent ramp has a long history and has so far delivered numerous design options – a temporary wooden mock-up which remained in use for over five years, and more recently a fabricated steel temporary ramp. While serving a functional purpose at present, this would be inappropriate as a permanent installation for a building of international significance.

‘This permanent ramp will represent the most significant fabric addition to the cathedral and become a lasting feature of one of the world’s best-known and most-loved buildings.’

Ninety per cent of the funding required for the scheme has been donated. Construction is about to get under way and is expected to complete next summer.

A potential second phase of the project, to build a new internal porch for the entrance, is currently being explored. Additional funding would be needed. 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • No site plan, but presumably cheek-by-jowl with St Augustine's Tower if it's to occupy the site of the main body of the pre-WW2 church.
    It would be good to see an image of the latter - I wonder if any thought was given to reconstructing it after the war, as has happened to lost works of fine architecture elsewhere in Europe?

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