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    Sherborne School: Pilkington Laboratories


    New science building at Michael Hopkins’ alma mater in the Dorset town of Sherborne

    Location:Dorset, United Kingdom
    Size:1,300 m²
    Client:Sherborne School

    Sherborne’s eponymous school occupies a collection of nineteenth and twentieth century buildings in the centre of the town. Our new science block redevelops a former swimming pool within the school complex, providing physics and electronics laboratories on the ground floor, and chemistry laboratories on the first floor.

    The site is flanked by cottages to the south and a handsome two-storey house to the north. In response to this sensitive street frontage, the new building maintains the domestic scale and rhythm of the street. To help reduce the height and bulk of the building, the pitched, slate roof is doubled on either side of a central line of rooflights. At ridge level, louvred chimneys serve as outlets for fumes from the laboratories. The first floor of precast concrete planks incorporates a modular raised floor for services distribution.

    The design harnesses the almost storey-height level difference across the site by providing direct access to the first floor laboratories via an open colonnade, removing the need for internal staircases or lifts. Instead, two-flight external steps lead down to ground floor entrances at either end of a central corridor.

    As well as responding to the scale of the surrounding context, the new block also embodies its neighbours’ simple, practical character. External walls are faced with local Ham stone, uncoursed to match the nearby buildings, while the chimneys are supported by ashlar stone corbels. Reconstructed stone is used for the frames and mullions of the repetitive, four-light windows, and also for the first floor colonnade. This is separated from the chemistry laboratories by an insulated, timber-framed wall.