New London Architecture

City of London School competition winners announced

Friday 11 June 2021

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Morris+Company and Freehaus have been revealed as the winners of a design competition to take forward a major redevelopment programme at City of London School. The open call competition was organised by New London Architecture (NLA) and the City of London Corporation, and the project now moves forward to develop one of London’s most prestigious schools, on one of the most prominent sites in the City of London. 

71 teams responded to the call for entries, which specifically encouraged collaborations of established teams with new and emerging practices. Morris+Company and Freehaus overcame stiff competition from a shortlist which included:
 
Alison Brooks Architects with Bradley-Hole Schoenaich and de Pass Montgomery
Buckley Gray Yeoman
David Morley Architects with Studio Verve
Gort Scott with IF_DO and Unscene Architecture
Haworth Tompkins with Hayatsu Architects  
Maccreanor Lavington with Erect Architecture and Yinka Ilori Studio
            
City of London School was founded in the fifteenth century and moved onto its prominent riverside site in 1986. A masterplan, completed in 2019, is informing how new facilities can most efficiently, effectively and creatively support the school in the 21st century, with increased pupil numbers and new curricular needs. Morris+Company have approached the City of London School extension as an opportunity to enhance connectivity between the school’s various departments, and have developed their proposals through close collaboration with Freehaus, which will lead on the internal fit-out and engagement strategy.

Strategic interventions will allow the existing buildings and circulation to open up internally, and frame the inspirational views out. The new extension completes the existing quadrangle, reinforcing the central landscaped courtyard at the heart of the school. The footprint is optimised to create as much space for learning, studying and reflection as possible, and the proposals allow for further rooftop expansion in the future. A new atrium brings light through the space to the pupil entrance, and forms an additional forum for the whole school community.

Rooftops are activated to celebrate views across the Thames and Southbank to St Benet Church and St Paul’s Cathedral, whilst also rooting biodiversity into the life and curriculum of the school. The atrium and new classrooms are crowned with articulated north lights, creating optimal internal spaces and photovoltaic potential.

The tone and expression of the new building borrows details from the existing school, reinterpreted with modern construction techniques. Modern methods of construction will also allow the development to sit over the A-road tunnels that run under the site. New circulation spaces are created through curved articulation, offering a diversity of spaces for learning and exchange, alongside standard classroom arrangements.
 
Joe Morris, Founding Director, Morris+Company, said:
 
The brief called for a project that would be net-zero carbon in construction and in use as well as providing students with autonomy in their learning environment. Both of these principles are increasingly fundamental to the way we work and design. The competition scheme was co-authored by Morris+Company and Freehaus through a collaborative design process which will remain in place throughout the development of the design and its realisation. Our team feels extremely privileged to have the opportunity to develop an exemplar scheme for such an important site and prominent location.
 
Alan Bird, Head of City of London School, said:
 
“This redevelopment will provide new teaching and learning space, whilst facilitating modern and emerging technologies to support learning and teaching. It will enable an important repurposing of our space for the needs of our school in the 21st century.
 
“We had a clear vision for the project, which will excite and inspire our pupils, our teachers, and the partner schools and organisations with whom we work and who will benefit from the development.
 
“Environmental sustainability is key. We want City of London School to become a flagship in renewable and efficient energy use, and to promote environmental consciousness across the school and the City of London more broadly.”
 
Rosa Rogina, Programme Director, NLA Collaborate, said:
 
“The response to our call for entries was phenomenal and, as we had hoped, produced a refreshing and exciting shortlist of established names alongside new and emerging practices. Morris+Company and Freehaus’s winning concept was an inspirational and worthy winner, and they are a brilliant team to take this project forward.”

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