Millfield School, Library Building Refurbishment and Extension
Butleigh Road, Street, Somerset
Internal Floor Area
A new face to Millfield’s Library: creating a light filled and vibrant study centre at the heart of the campus.
Page\Park have been working with Millfield school since early 2019 on the refurbishment and extension of the existing Library Building.
The library project aims to enhance the north west corner of the campus and deliver a building that connects to the external landscape at Millfield. The original building designed by Jeremy and Caroline Gould is a fine modern building showing distinct Scandinavian influences. Page \ Park’s intervention opens-up the southern side of the building and is driven by a need to improve social learning space on the campus. The vision for the project is to transform the library into a vibrant study centre, providing exemplary teaching and learning spaces and signalling its importance within the campus.
The main body of the existing library will be retained and refurbished with a two-storey extension on the south east corner giving a new entrance, social study area and 6th form centre. The form and character of the extension is designed to harmonise with the existing building, while adding further clarity and enclosure to the external spaces.
The extension and refurbishment of the existing library building will create space for a new reception space; dedicated careers space; media classrooms/studio; Mac computer suite; a new vertical circulation core; and combined 6th form centre and café with associated staff and administrative accommodation.
City & Land
Rethinking the entrance to the library is an opportunity to present a more welcoming face to the building and its supporting activities. Compositionally, our approach has been to develop a simple, elegant folding facade that encases the south east corner of the site, overlapping the original building at both ends to form new stairs and circulation routes, improving accessibility at all levels. At the same time, adding external seating areas and overspill space to gather and socialise amongst the trees and better connect the library to the external landscape. The pedestrian path along the south side of the building will be adjusted to provide level access to the new library entrance and a separate way into the media department.
The proposed wrapping wall is distinguished from the existing red masonry building envelope by a contrasting light grey brick. Many of the buildings throughout the campus are clad in a wide variety of brick or stone, in a range of grey, brown and buff tones. The proposed brick has been chosen to harmonise the range of existing materials on site and relates to the tonal qualities of the local stone. It is proposed that the new aluminium windows, doors, soffits, and metalwork are coloured in a warm dark grey finish to compliment both the red and new light grey brickwork. Externally, the entrance steps, ramp and new seating elements are to be a light-coloured precast concrete. With warm grey stainless-steel handrails to the entrance steps and timber slatted tops to the benches to tie in with the surrounding landscaped gardens.
The proposal optimizes the operational performance of an existing built asset by adapting and reusing the existing library building. Page\Park worked alongside the school’s estates team and acoustic engineer to develop a robust and functional material palette that would minimize ongoing maintenance requirements and ensure longevity. In addition, the thermal performance of the new extension is designed to exceed building regulation requirements. The first-floor 6th form centre, café and ground floor careers accommodation are orientated south to take advantage of natural light while overhangs and canopies manage solar gain. Where feasible, openable windows maximise user control and lessen dependence on mechanical ventilation. The project scope includes for upgrade and replacement of existing heating and cooling plant. As a result, air source heat pumps and PV panels are proposed to reduce CO2 emissions and running costs.
Heritage & Conservation:
The architectural response to the significance of the existing building has several facets:
- Proposed retention and renewal strategy that acknowledges historic reference to anticipated expansion on original drawings.
- Sensitive reconsideration of the front entrance composition to improve access to upper levels in dialogue with the original architects.
- Sympathetic and overlapping elevational treatments that endeavour to unite existing and proposed elements whilst framing the new entrance sequence.
Page\Park and other design consultants worked closely with the school to develop the project brief. Using documents prepared by Millfield School’s Estate Team with input from members of the schools Senior Leadership Team as a basis for discussion. Page\Park’s project team went on to engage in a structured consultation process. Utilising hand crafted models and the 3D outputs of BIM combined with real-time rendering software to explore and convey design options as the brief evolved to meet the school’s needs, sensitive context, and project vision.
Inserting a new pitched rooflight at the heart of the library plan provides light filled and vibrant study areas. Taking advantage of the surrounding natural assets, large areas of glazing maximise views out whilst drawing in abundant natural light. Natural materials and colours are used throughout. The internal material palette has been tailored to meet acoustic, comfort and hygiene requirements. Ceilings are clad in natural wood wool panelling, walls are lined in plywood, bespoke internal fittings are manufactured in plywood and soft furnishing and floor finish hues take precedent from the surrounding landscape and existing raw building materials. Structural and building services design are considered integral to the interior strategy and contribute to the architectural concept.
The library and supporting spaces are designed as a multi-level platform to explore, with a diverse mix of adaptable learning, teaching areas and social spaces with varied atmospheres. The settings are intended to encourage everyone to launch into discovery, its trials, victories, and opportunities, from the book to the conversation. The resulting arrangement is a series of open plan spaces that support varying group sizes and a multitude of activities by maximising the available space and volume as well as the utility of the construction.
“Millfield seeks to put learning at the heart of everything that we do, as students or as staff. The Millfield Library will be the embodiment of that vision: it will be a place where all feel welcome and which gives every individual a place to discover and to learn. It will be the glue of life and learning, connecting together all subjects and the various stages of life through 6th form, careers and teacher training.”
Gavin Horgan Headmaster at Millfield School