Fitzjames Teaching and Learning Centre, Hazlegrove School

The Fitzjames Teaching and Learning Centre is a new building in the campus of Hazlegrove Preparatory School in Yeovil, Somerset, designed by Feilden Fowles. The new centre embodies the school’s ambition to instil a love of learning, enquiry and intellectual rigour, by providing flexible teaching and learning spaces in an innovative arrangement to encourage independent learning. Located at the end of two key axes in the school campus, the brick building and surrounding external courtyard creates a new academic hub at the heart of the school’s Grade II listed campus.

The design is informed by the research work of educational theorist Bart McGettrick, who was consulted early on in the design process shortly after Feilden Fowles’s appointment in 2012. This led to the exploration of ecclesiastical and monastic typologies, which are widely accepted as successful spatial models for education. The result is classrooms and break out spaces designed around a large central resource space, in which students can work in small groups and use resources outside the classroom context whilst being passively supervised. The flexible spatial configuration, degree of visual transparency and acoustic control combine to ensure a successful balance between more traditional classroom environments and the open resource space.

The building is designed in a contemporary idiom, in a style and materialisation harmonious with the original school building. Adopting a classical formality, the façade aims to establish a civic presence and emphasise the role of the courtyard in front. Its sequencing of entrance courtyard and colonnade has a precedent in iconic buildings of the past including Schinkel’s Altes Museum. The new timber canopy to the Woodlands block and pre-cast colonnade of Fitzjames provide covered external break-out space whilst bringing a sense of unity and civic presence to the courtyard.

RIBA South West Award 2015
RIBA South West Client of the Year Award 2015.

Architect: Feilden Fowles