Charterhouse School – Business and Leadership Hub

Godalming, Surrey
Charterhouse School
P1: 2022, P2: 2023
1,095 m2

Preparing post-16 students to be industry-ready

The Museum Building at Charterhouse School is a beautiful colonaded building with symmetrical gable ends facing the pedestrianised zone of the campus. It was originally designed by Sir Philip Hardwick, architect of the Great Hall at Euston Railway Station.

In the 1980s, the building was substantially replanned with mezzanine floors inserted into the building, creating a low floor-to-floor height on the ground floor. This has resulted in low grade teaching space, a school retail unit, and back of house IT services facilities.

The vision for the new Business and Leadership Hub was to create a thread through this building and link a new welcoming reception area through to a modernised lecture theatre. In order to achieve this, the building would need to be opened up to create a greater sense of space and connection through a new public staircase.

Our design concept was driven by leading business and incubator hubs around the world and an aspiration to create a facility that no other school in the country could rival.

We analysed very informal industry and higher education settings, such as Google and WeWork offices, smaller business incubator hubs, and Harvard’s innovative Derek Bok Centre, alongside more formal settings such as the new Bodleian (Weston) Library at the University of Oxford.

This was presented to the client to draw-out where they wanted to position the new Business and Leadership Hub as an outward facing facility. Whilst Google-style playful elements such as slides and sleeping-pods were out-of-the-picture, the School has decided that a level of informality would help collaboration thrive.

With this in mind, three different typologies of space were created:

  • An informal group working area with modular sofa arrangements to adapt to different group sizes and screens set up to receive Chrome casting from mobile devices. This area had a ‘mock’ board room adjacent for scenario and role play.
  • A semi-formal seminar space with entire walls of interactive screens. This room accommodated individual high back comfortable seats with integrated bag storage and laptop arms. It was important these were on castors so that the setting of a formal lecture could break out into group working or other seminar format seating arrangements.
  • A formal lecture theatre. This space was designed to increase capacity of the existing lecture theatre from 120 to 180 seats. Level access was provided to all entrances and increased occupancy was achieved in the new stair and fire egress design. The retractable seating system was upgraded from bench to full seats for a more luxury experience and walls were lined in slated American Oak with felt backing for improved reverberation control. The existing ornate beams and timber boarded soffit are proposed to be painted white and the original stained glass window opened up (at the back of the space) by removing a false wall installed in the 1980s.

The new facility will provide the school with cutting-edge technology integration and a place where pupils can aspire to lead the world of business. The building is being constructed in two phases. Phase 1 in September 2022 and Phase 2 the following year.