05 Jan 2016

A Look Back on 2015

2015 was an exceptionally busy year at Walters & Cohen, with beautiful buildings completed and exciting projects on the drawing board. As we look back on 2015 and ahead to the new year, we send our best wishes and warmest thanks to all our clients and staff.

Last year saw the completion of a number of projects, including our first in Scotland, Lairdsland Primary School. As a reference primary school for Scottish Futures Trust’s Schools for the Future Programme, the project has attracted a lot of interest and appears to be revitalising thinking on how future primary schools across Scotland are designed and used. The client said that since the school’s opening they have given at least one tour a week to architects, other local authorities and interested parties. Lairdsland was one of two winners of the Glasgow Institute of Architects’ Education Award in November.

Other completed projects include a new sports and fitness centre at Godolphin and Latymer School, Hammersmith, with teaching spaces and a (very popular) climbing wall; the refurbishment of the historic Boathouse 4 in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to create a boatbuilding centre, exhibition space and restaurant; and a new arts building with a beautiful fluted stone façade at the American School in London, St John’s Wood.

In 2016 we will be finishing new buildings for St Swithun’s School in Winchester, the new three-storey Gascoigne Primary School with rooftop playground, and an extension to the Vajrasana Buddhist Retreat in Suffolk, which brings together charred timber, beautiful brick, zinc and concrete to make a restorative, contemplative space.

Continuing projects include the general teaching building at St Paul’s School; new accommodation for Newnham College, Cambridge; the sixth form centre for Reigate Grammar School, which starts on site in January; an extension to St Michael’s Church in Camberley; and projects at Feltonfleet, ISL Surrey, Newton Prep, Kingston Grammar School, and King’s School, Canterbury.

Further achievements included a Camden Design Award for Regent High School. We are delighted that the jury really understood the concepts behind the design, commenting, ‘This is an accomplished and sleek re-imagination of an entire school despite budgetary constraints … providing high quality teaching accommodation, improving community facilities and celebrating its role in the heart of Somers Town. Natural light, transparency and openness flood the site with a sense of wellbeing, connecting occupants to the landscape and bringing a positive contribution to the cityscape.’ The project was also well received during Open House weekend in September.

Congratulations also to Tim Rowley, who was made an Associate. As project architect for St Paul’s School, his CGIs have been very successful in articulating the design, and he has shared his knowledge with others in the office to the benefit of projects and competition entries.

As a wonderful Christmas treat to end the year, the office travelled to Porto for a weekend break. Pedro, our tripeiro, excelled as translator and tour guide, showing us the architectural highlights of his city, not to mention the many port wine cellars below the hotel.

And, of course, 2015 will be remembered as the year we joined the Architecture Football League (AFL). Well done to Jamie Craig for amassing and captaining the squad, and congratulations to the team for winning the AFL Championship title and for earning promotion to the AFL Premiership which kicks off next spring. Onwards and upwards the Voltage Cherries!

There are some exciting times ahead and we can’t wait to share them with you, but for now we would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!