The school occupies a Grade II* listed building within a designed landscape at Lytchett Minster, near Poole in Dorset. Following a fire, a significant part of its accommodation consisted of temporary buildings. The County Council decided to build new facilities to replace those lost and to provide for the schools’ wider curriculum needs.
At the request of English Heritage, Illman Young were engaged to research the history of the site and to provide an evaluation of the designed landscape. This would enable the new development to respect its historic environment (listed buildings and landscape), and provide a set of constraints within which new development could be accommodated.
The study examined how the original designed landscape developed and functioned; its circulation, views and sequence of spaces, and the role that the house played within the landscape. It was not intended to be a full restoration plan but to provide sufficient information to allow English Heritage to evaluate the school’s development proposals in the context of its historic setting.
Following the initial historic landscape report, a landscape masterplan and full working drawings for the first phase were developed. The high student numbers called for a robust design combining the requirements of access with the provision of a range of spaces allowing opportunities to gather and socialise, as well as for teaching purposes.
A bold and simple concept using quality materials in a form that complements both the main house and the architecture of the new buildings were key design criteria. Informal recreation space is integral to the scheme with the necessary level changes used to provide a range of spaces of varying sizes and functions. Wide central steps lead from the new building to the manor house, providing informal seating and gathering. An outdoor theatre sits below a decked cafe terrace, and provides additional informal seating. Elsewhere a range of outdoor courtyards have been created for both teaching space or social use.
Providing safe cycle routes both on and off site, and reducing the physical and visual impact of cars was equally important. An area of poor quality woodland has been revitalised and replanted with historically appropriate trees and shrubs. It incorporates a new woodland car park, which used ‘no-dig’ technology to avoid a significant impact on the mature trees that were retained.
Approximate Map Location
Illman Young Artas-ua.info Design Limited
near Poole, Dorset
Dorset County Council
|Type of scheme|
Project of the Year, SW Built Environment Awards 2008
£450K (external works)
less than 1 ha
Historic landscape evaluation and integration of new and old buildings within the landscape while creating a mixed and varied landscape for use by the school as a teaching resource and social spaces.
Architects: Cube Design | QS and CDMC: Cyrill Sweet | Engineers: Atkins
Dorset County Council
Main circulation routes were resin-bound gravel with setts used to provide details, break up work areas and reflect the paving material used elsewhere on site. All materials were sympathetic to both the old buildings and the proposed modern blocks.
The setts were continued within the main entrances to the new building, and for smaller scale detailed areas to fire exits.
The paving directly adjacent to the Manor House was specified to be natural stone. However due to cost issues this was replaced with an appropriate slab sympathetic to the stone of the Manor House.
Resin-bound gravel: Ayton | Mistral setts: Marshallls |Fairfaced block: Forticrete |Coping: Cathera Stone |Seating and bins: Factory Furniture
The planting provided the key role in unifying the individual spaces. Ornamental evergreen hedges provide structure throughout the scheme. Ornamental shrub planting was kept simple with large blocks of colour and contrast to echo the modern form of the building. Species selected also needed to relate to the wider historic landscape and setting as a whole.
Tree planting plays an important role in punctuating the spaces between the buildings. Trees in the courtyard areas between the manor house and the new block provide a visual separation between the new build and the original house, and allowi 'views out' to the parkland from the dining terrace.