Journalist uses Richard Rogers to attack previous school building policy
TP Bennett has unveiled images of the design for Toby Young’s West London Free School that it will send to local planners next month.
The firm is carrying out the work for contractor Willmott Dixon and has been asked to overhaul an existing Victorian building in King Street in the Hammersmith area of west London.
But launching the plans, the journalist couldn’t resist dishing out another barb against the previous Labour government’s school building policy which he suggested involved getting Richard Rogers to design “glass boxes”.
He added: “The answer is not to purchase metropolitan open land and hire Richard Rogers to design a glass box, as the last government was fond of doing, but to refit and extend an existing building.
“It’s not a question of whether we need a new secondary school but how we can set one up in the most inexpensive way.”
Young had previously angered architects after accusing them of building “civic monuments” which cost too much money. This week he claimed his new school would be half of the average £28 million he said was spent on a new secondary school under Labour.
Called Palingswick House, the new home of the West London Free School had been earmarked for demolition by Hammersmith and Fulham Council ahead of the site being turned into flats.
But the school bought the site and is now hoping to open its 600-place school next September. Work on site is set to start this October.
TP Bennett and Willmott Dixon were drafted on to the project last month after the school split with original contractor Apollo.
The architect will refurbish the existing 1,500sq m building and add a 3,000sq m extension. Partner Chris Wieszczycki said: “The budget is tight and a fraction of what is normally spent. It’s light touch refurbishment and the extension at the back.”
He added the firm meets with parents once a month to discuss designs. “It’s a refreshing experience working with the end-user for once.”
Once completed, it will include 20 classrooms, six science labs and two art rooms and will provide education for girls and boys aged 11-16.
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