School of Art and Design, Somerset College
Designing and delivering a regeneration project for the School of Art and Design at Somerset College
The £12m regeneration of the School of Art and Design was a significant project for Somerset College, which included a major refurbishment of the existing 6000m2 building and a new extension to provide specialist art studios and flexible work rooms.
Although the existing building was structurally sound, it suffered from severe dilapidation in areas and was affected by poor alterations in its 41 year history. The brief therefore was to reinvent the building itself but also address its impact on the campus.
The ethos was to enhance the robust original design and celebrate the quality of its unadorned structure. The only elements we physically altered were areas upgraded due to poor existing performance. These include an ugly 1980’s lift shaft and failing rooflights, which were celebrated by the addition of the ‘Gold’ Tecu cladding to expressly distinguish between the original and the altered.
The new build extension took cues from the original building in terms of exposing the structure, but in contrast was designed as a glulam frame.
A fundamental strategy in the proposals was to create a clarity of circulation and movement throughout the ground and first floors. This included repositioning the main entrance so that the building integrates positively with the public approach and campus, whilst the previous ‘warren-like’ wings were replaced by modern flexible spaces to help with both the circulation and envelope performance. The building has been thermally upgraded and utilises natural ventilation, brise soleil and night cooling through its thermal mass to control the environment.