Edgington Spink and Hyne Architects were commissioned to design a new Science Centre for Queen Anne’s School, a private girls’ school in Caversham, Reading.

The brief required a contemporary building which would be sympathetic with the existing Listed Victorian school buildings.

Main supervisory and vertical circulation spaces are located to the front of the building, overlooking the existing quadrangle through large areas of glazing which both maximises daylight and give the building a modern identity, also enabling the movement of people within the building to be appreciated from the courtyard.

The 7 laboratories and preparation rooms are distributed over 3 floors to the north, where glare and overheating can be minimised. These spaces are naturally ventilated utilising passive stacks, which extend through the roofs and are the modern equivalent of the chimneys which form an important visual element of the original buildings.

The new Science Centre incorporates a combination of details in common with other existing buildings. In particular these include both gables and sections with over hanging eaves to achieve an energy efficient building minimising solar gain in the summer, and maximising passive heating in the winter.

Red brickwork has been selected to blend with the existing buildings and form a strong visual bond with them. String courses and window details are in lighter brick. Detailing is contemporary but bold, reflecting the ambience and style of the older buildings.

The roof has been deliberately designed to minimise the overall bulk, achieved by a steeper pitch facing the courtyard – echoing the older roofs – but a shallower pitch facing northwards.

The roof is finished in a dark grey profiled metal sheeting matching the surrounding slate work. Simple landscaping seeks to provide easy circulation, but introduces planting and other features to enhance the quadrangle.