PJMA was appointed by The Abbey School, Reading to design a new early years centre. This involved the complete refurbishment of a substantial victorian building, formerly used as a judges residential lodging house, as well as the conversion of the main building’s garage block. These are complimented by two new extensions – a small infill to provide support spaces for the nursery accommodation in the former garage block and a more substantial new hall adjacent to the main building.
The site includes a large, south facing garden to the rear of the main building and features a number of well established, protected trees and an active badger set. A number of approaches were considered but the chosen design responds to this context by positioning the new hall along the eastern flank of the existing building where it provides a compositional balance to the garage block on the west. The hall is pulled away from the main building but connected by a new entrance that provides access to the teaching spaces in the raised ground floor and ancillary accommodation in the semi-basement. The timber clad hall nestles amongst the existing trees and provides a low-lying horizontal foil to the vertical emphasis of the victorian building. This original building contains the principle teaching spaces and support facilities.