Ibstock Place School Refectory

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Location: London

Architect: Maccreanor Lavington Architects

Client: Ibstock Place School

Structural engineer: engineersHRW

Main contractor: Feltham Construction Ltd

Joinery: D Smith

Glulam structure: Constructional Timber (Manufacturers) Ltd

Wall/ceiling panelling, sliding door linings: AAS Projects and Design

Engineered timber floor: Havwood

Wood supplier: Mosser Leimholz GmbH (glulam), X-Lam Dolomiti Srl (CLT)

Species: European spruce, European oak, American white oak

The new refectory is a reimagined grand timber hall with a lofty structure that equally uplifts and soothes pupils as they celebrate communal school life. A century-old oak staircase at the heart of the school prompted a determination to build on the history of timber craftsmanship. The design is a seemingly simple barn-like form, built on the footprint of the previous dining facilities but with triple the usable floorspace through the addition of basement and mezzanine levels. A step roof profile defines the three primary functions - hall, servery and kitchens – and allows glimpsed views to a wooded backdrop. Low eaves offer a welcoming human scale to the significant volume and allow the refectory to sit subservient to the original, locally listed school building. The pinnacle of the building is the timber roof, an intricate lattice of glulam beams rises to three glazed lanterns. The exposed structure resonates with adjacent mature London plane trees, which were preserved through careful foundation design. Within the diamond grid, acoustic absorption is provided behind oak slats, offering a soothing visual and aural hush to the space that can seat up to 500 pupils. The lanterns deliver daylight deep into the space and support natural ventilation. To preserve the visual harmony between spruce and oak, accelerated ageing lab tests were carried out on timber samples and a UV-stable, white-tinted fire-proofing coating was developed.