Split over three campuses in Maidenhead, Claires Court School had visionary plans to bring all three of its sites into one place, and turned to us to realise those plans. As one of the UK’s very few “diamond schools” – schools where boys and girls are taught separately in junior and senior school, but together in nursery and sixth form – Claires Court has an unusual structure, and the masterplan and designs for the new site would need to reflect that.
The biggest challenge, however, was the location. The logical choice was to extend the Ridgeway campus – currently home to the junior boys’ school – to accommodate facilities from the other two campuses. However, this would mean building on green belt land, and our designs needed to ensure that the development fitted seamlessly into its surroundings.
Our approach was to integrate the School as closely as possible with its new parkland home. We retained existing trees, making the best use of outdoor space with formal quads and courtyards.
One of the key drivers for the project was an integrated campus, and our vision reflects this. Boys and girls share central, specialist facilities, despite learning separately during the middle years of their time at the school. We took a holistic approach to the project, getting the full design team and contractor involved early to design the scheme fully and test its constructability ahead of the planning application.