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Multi Comfort school building to promotes better health, comfort and wellbeing

Model of Multi Comfort building Bartholomews Barn at The Kings School Worcester


The Kings School, Worcester required a new multi-purpose hall for sports, assemblies, drama, music & dance for their Junior School, Kings Hawford. They envisaged the building being used for the school and for external lettings and events. This building was to replace the existing school hall (The Cobb, 141m2). The new multi-purpose hall would also have a requirement for a kitchen and server for after-match catering and events, and changing facilities with showers and bathrooms to suit all of the potential users.


  • 1 or 2 Badminton courts
  • Trampoline
  • Dance and dances
  • Concerts
  • Drama with seating for 200
  • Five-a-side football or other team game (reduced from Sport England full-size requirements)
  • Netball court (reduced from Sport England full-size requirements)
  • Other sports and net games


The new multi-purpose school hall needed to be sympathetic to the character of the existing buildings at Kings Hawford. A family centred school, Kings required the building to ensure it was inclusive and projected the feel of a happy and secure environment, ensuring it was child-friendly site.

Wanting the feel of a village, it needed to fit with the rural vernacular of the area which has a rich tradition of barn-style, timber-framed buildings. It should also be clear that the new building supported a strong outdoor focus, providing views and maximising the natural sunlight available, making the building feel light and bright.



King's Hawford is accommodated within an elegant Georgian house with additional modern facilities close at hand. The school is set in thirty acres of parkland allowing ample room for playing fields and parkland for the pupils to enjoy. Facilities include a heated indoor swimming pool, tennis courts and a large adventure playground. There are also specialist rooms for science, art and design, history and geography and music.


In Worcestershire, historically many buildings have been agricultural buildings. One of the strongest building archetypes is that of the barn. William Morris, the C19 designer and writer, is recorded as having taken guests a short walk from his house to visit “the Noblest building in England”, not a stately home or church but a tithe barn. Typically a barn has one large tall central space, with smaller adjuncts for other uses, clustered under a large overhanging roof. The parallels with the requirement of The Kings School for a tall sports and drama hall, with changing and other smaller ancillary uses adjoining, were clear for the designers – Associated Architects, Birmingham.



Developing the thinking above, the new building was conceived as a contemporary architectural version of a traditional barn. The height required internally for badminton and trampoline (over 6m clear rising to over 8m at the ridge) is provided for the relevant parts of the space, but diminishes to 4m at the eaves to reduce the bulk of the building and allow a large “cat-slide” roof at reducing roof pitches to wrap over the complete building, descending to a child’s scale at the eaves, and meeting the rising ground to the east of the site.

The siting establishes a new courtyard at King’s Hawford to visually contain cars. Views on the approach would be to the new building rather than to parked cars. The opportunity and option to reconfigure and landscape the parking provision was taken, with parking rising and new planting used to enhance and soften the courtyard.

The design allows fine weather activities in the hall to easily spill out South onto the grass area.

Plenty of natural light is provided in the design, through rooflights which face north, to give an even light and to avoid both unwanted heat gains and glare which is detrimental for sports use. Click here to read more about the impact of artificial light on health and well being.

The south-facing glazing would provide useful winter solar heat. The proposed building materials are natural hardwood timber, both internally and externally. Externally the timber will weather down to an attractive silvery grey, and a durable timber could remain untreated and be almost maintenance free. Internally, the use of sealed unpainted timber will create a space of natural warmth, equally suitable for sports, drama and other uses.

The proposed building floor plans are shown with possible different layouts for sports, full-size badminton, half-size netball, dance/drama or assembly with retractable seating and table seating for other events. The gross internal floor area of the proposed design was 391m2.



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