New building to expand Sevenoaks School’s science department. A combination of exposed concrete, glazing, timber and steel gives the structure a robust, workshop feel.

BREEAM Excellent achieved
2019 RIBA National Award 

2019 RIBA South East Award 
2019 RIBA South East Client of the Year Award 
2019 Schueco Excellence Award – Steel Project
2019 RICS South East Design Through Innovation Award 

The project is the latest in a masterplan for the long-term development of Sevenoaks School, a leading independent co-educational school. The school has a beautiful site adjacent to Knole Park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The £30m project provides a new science centre with 22 laboratories, technology workshops, offices, a sixth form centre, café and large multi-purpose space that can be used for exams.

Concrete played a vital role in the building’s architectural and engineering conception. A precast ribbed roof structure is the project’s standout feature, facilitating seven-metre-wide pitched spans with a slender appearance, while maintaining the concrete aesthetic, integrating services and providing thermal mass to the upper floor. A series of north lights brings diffused natural light into the laboratories and the dramatic central atrium. Steelwork framing elevates the precast panels into these skylights.

Extensive detailing and coordination, carried out through BIM and the building’s Revit model, fine-tuned the setting out of the ribs, the relationships with the steel framing and the services strategy.

In situ concrete is used in a variety of ways throughout the project and is integral to the function, aesthetics and performance of the building. Precast concrete stair flights are used in the building with similar exposed finishes.

The imposing mass of the exposed concrete is offset by elegantly detailed features in several areas of the building, including glazed steel canopies, glass display vitrines and light steel framed balustrades. Two freestanding atrium stairs were fabricated in steelwork offsite and delivered and lifted into position through the partially completed roof structure as completed elements.

The building is embedded into a sloping site and an additional reinforced concrete basement level contains storage and plant spaces. The SUDS drainage design includes areas of permeable landscaping and soakaways.

Kent, UK

Sevenoaks School

Tim Ronalds Architects