Hilden Grange Preparatory School

A playful environment for serious education

Arriving outside Hilden Grange you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a typical little Victorian Prep School, with its sharp red-brick gables. But beyond the original building – converted from a large house – lies a highly inventive, 21st century addition that nonetheless sits comfortably in its surroundings.

The School commissioned the Ritblat Buildings to create “a spacious, modern teaching space befitting the high quality education received by Hilden Grange pupils”. The architects designed two distinctively different wings, linked by a central outdoor area and a dining hall, for the sloping site. The buildings also feature new science labs, an art and design area and a library.

Project details

  • Customer: Alpha Plus Group
  • Architect: Hawkins Brown
  • Project manager: Arcadis
  • Quantity surveyor: Arcadis
  • Structural engineer: Price and Myers
  • M&E Services engineer: Peter Deer Associates
  • Completion date: September 2012

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320 Fact icon pupils use the buildings every day
66 Fact icon weeks from start to finish
BREEAM Fact icon very good rating being targeted for the building

Minimal disruption… but great involvement

The challenge for BAM was to deliver the buildings without disrupting the day-to-day learning.

The cross-laminated timber structure was manufactured in and imported from Austria. This allowed BAM to build the frame with minimum noise disruption to neighbours living on either side of the school.

Children and construction generally don’t mix. So the Project Manager had to ensure that personnel could access the site easily, while protecting the children. At the same time, pupils of all ages were involved in the project throughout. 

Sustainability measures include combined heat and power generation, as well as the timber cladding. The project is on target for a BREEAM Very Good rating. 

Built for learning

Headmaster John Withers described the new buildings as “outstanding” and said they had transformed the school. “Throughout the building period of 15 months, the BAM team was excellent, not only in its dealings with the senior management team, but also for the way in which the children were involved in the project,” he confirmed.

What matters in a building like this, though, is how it is actually being used: day in, day out. Over a year after it was completed, the school affirms that the children, staff and parents are still thoroughly enjoying their enhanced environment.