2009 Yearbook

r e v i e w 33 Arcos Consultancy JOHN HEMINGWAY , ManagING Director OF HESPR SCHEME MEMBER ARCOS CONSULTANCY, OUTLINES THE IMPORTANCE OF ADAPTING HISTORIC SCHOOL BUILDINGS FOR MODERN USE RATHER THAN DEMOLISHING AND REBUILDING THEM. Arcos Consultancy is a quantity surveying and conservation consultancy company based in London and the East Midlands. The company has extensive experience in the financial management of all types of projects including historic repair, conservation and extensions to historic buildings. Its work ranges from private dwellings to ancient monuments. The company’s work securing the future of modest school buildings faced with essential modernisation has proved particularly successful as it applies cross-cutting expertise in conservation, traditional structures, specification and cost control. Following the Elementary Education Act of 1870, and until the board’s abolition in 1904, the School Board for London (SBL) was the largest educational provider in London and its buildings form the basis of much local authority stock today. The reuse of these buildings to meet educational demands makes both financial and ecological sense as the cost of building new schools in inner London continues to escalate. There are, however, many issues to overcome in the conservation of any historic building, from the financial to the philosophical, but it is possible that schools include more of these problems than many other building types. Arguably this is why the Public Finance Initiative and the Building Schools for the Future programmes go for the easier option of demolition and new build. While a school that is to remain as a place of learning already has its reuse mapped out, in addition to the appropriate conservation of the fabric itself, issues such as sympathetic extension and the associated problems of form, scale and mass also need to be overcome. The first and most pressing problem is that many schools have already been developed over the years and now comprise rather overcrowded sites. This means that building works will have to be carried out with the pupils still using part of the site and, in some cases, the building itself. This poses real problems of safety throughout the works and the delivery of plant and materials. The original layout and arrangement of these schools provide opportunities as well as problems. Infants and juniors were located on the ground floor, senior girls on the first floor and senior boys at the top. Each group would have their Typical School Board for London architecture: the top photograph illustrates how the facilities can be extended without compromising the integrity of the existing architecture.