In 2011 Walters & Cohen won an invited competition to design a new arts building for the American School in London.
Taking its cue from the mass and footprint of the listed, semi-detached villas on the site adjacent, the four-storey building is designed to resemble a single large property. We researched and presented to the planners and governors a range of high quality materials for the external facades, including recycled glass, stucco flutes and marble. Material selection was just as important as mass and scale in providing a neutral foil to the listed buildings and varied architectural language in the immediate area. The detailed stucco facades envelop a simple volumetric form, and respond to the changing quality and colour of daylight throughout the day, introducing rhythm and intricacy to the new building.
The complexity of the project is heightened by its location on a tight, urban site in the St John’s Wood conservation area, where all proposed development attracts a lot of attention. We have liaised with the school’s distinguished board of governors, ward councillors and local politicians, and took part in a three-day public exhibition. The scheme was extremely well received and was granted planning permission in July 2012. The project is currently on site.