duggan morris architects

Adult Community College . Richmond

duggan morris architects

Richmond Adult Community College is a centre of excellence for adults providing learning, training and personal development across two campus sites; one in Twickenham and one in Richmond.

The college is currently embarking upon an exciting capital development project to focus its resources onto one site and create a single adult learning campus at the Parkshot campus, Richmond, which will serve as a centre of excellence and create beacon for adult learning. This strategic vision seeks to create a more accessible, effective and efficient teaching environment that is substantially more sustainable.

The setting
The site is located within the Central Richmond Conservation Area and adjacent to the Kew Foot Road Conservation Area to the north. It is noted that the area is home to a rich variety fo buildings with many "exuberant individual examples". There is a mixture of building heights, with the majority being between two and five storeys. Around the site there is a number of listed buildings which display an array of architectural styles and are various dates. The Richmond site itself is split across two distinct areas; the main site incorporating all fo the current education facilities and an adjoining site, 7B Parkshot, which is to b purchased by the college for inclusiong into the overall site wide strategy.

Main site
The original school building was constructed in 1909 as the permanent home of The Richmond County School for Girls. This building has a well proportioned symmetrical facade in a Neoclassical/Georgian revival style that was popular at the time. It is composed of brick and stone with fine detailing to the windows and doors. Various extensions were added and removed between 1913 and 1936 with a major period of extensions work carried out in the 1950s creating some additional teaching space, a gym and a studio theatre - all of which remain today. This newer extension sought to emulate its Edwardian neighbour by using a similar palette of marterials and style of construction with a pitched roof and stone banding. However, it was never able to fully match the quality and proportioning of the Edwardian original because it was built to a different brief at a time when the construction industry had changed.
As well as the imposing extened Edwardian building, there also exists a wide variety of building styles on the site, from a range of different eras, which sit side by side but which do not constitute a holistic vision for the campus. This includes The Queens Charlotte Hall, built in 1981 with money granted by Richmond Parish Lands on the condition that it remains a community theatre space for 60 years, and The Richmond Business School which built in 2003.

7B Parkshot Site
originally, public swimming baths occupied the site. A day Nursery was built adjacent to the baths sometime between 1913-1934. The swimming baths were relocated to the northern side of the A316 to make way for the Magistrates' Court in 1975.
7B Parkshot was originally occupied by the magistrate's court but has since been let out to other tenants by Richmond Counci. Its difference in constrcution to the main portion of the Magistrates; Court suggests it might have been a later addition, built over an existing car park. The Magistrates' Court has a very distinct character with white painted concrete structure and blockwork infill walls with long bands of black painted metal framed glazing and has been identified as being of townscape merit and is unique in the Richmond area.

The Proposal
The project is required to meet the RACC's strategic vision for a one site college based in Richmond, and is to be defined by an ambition for a long term process of community engagement, providing greater access, inclusivity and flexibility. It is hoped that the scheme will thus foster a greater sense of presence in the minds of local users by upgrading the quality of the site, improving its relationship to the street, and thus creating a building of repute and standing.
In order to achieve this vision, within an already heavily developed site, the proposal seeks to make the college more efficient in terms of spatial use by identifying unused areas and landlocked spaces, and unlocking them. Our analysis identified spaces and areas which could thus be reconfigured or demolished to create better efficiencies within the site. This process of unlocking and stripping, also serves a dual purpose intended to improve the setting of the original Edwardian building. New buildings, extensions and link blocks are then proposed to unify the site, allowing for the reorganisation of the site into curriculum hubs, that brings together compatible uses (such as dance and theatre) with shared facilities providing greater spatial efficiency and in turn areas of identity within the whole.

The new buildings, are designed to complement and differentiate themselves from the Edwardian facade. The conceptual strategy being a series of interconnected cubic forms which cluster along the Twickenham Road boundary and culminating in the street facing new build element of the Art and Design block. These simple cubic forms are varying mass and height, wrapped in a softly textured brick skin and articulated with over sized picutre windows and topped with metallic roof level lanterns. At the centre of the site (at the junction of the new forms and the rear of the Edwardian Building)is to be located a quadrant courtyard, cloistered on all sides. This green space is intended to provide a heart to the scheme and provides a transparent connection for several of the key site activities, including a cafe and exhibition space along with reception, foyer, artists' shop and theatre bar, all accessed from a new clear entrance for staff, learners and the public.
The purchase of teh adjacent 7B Parkshot site creates problems of connectivity and access through the college. In response, a new connection is to be driven through the Richmond Business School. The proposal for the extensions to this building are to be in a lightweight mesh clad extension at 2nd floor with large fixed glazed panels. Opening windows are to be set behind this mesh, and the same language used for all new windows in the existing openings with the same treatment to the new teaching accommodation at ground floor. The area between 7b and the Richmond Business School is to be landscaped to provide planting areas suitable for the horticulture and cooking teaching spaces proposed within, which have large opening glazed doors.

An application for planning consent was issued in January 2012, with works due for commencement in Q3 2012.

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