Brighton Girls Vicarage, Temple and Montpelier

Brighton Girls brightens up

Brighton Girls is an all-through school in the heart of Brighton and a founding school of the Girls’ Day School Trust. Formerly Brighton and Hove High School, it was established in 1876 and is proud to have been an early champion of girls’ education in the UK.

Education has moved on since then, and while the school’s older buildings are much loved they were no longer entirely fit for purpose. Having completed a pop-up prototyping hub at the school in 2019, in 2020 we won a competition that supported their ambitious project to reunite the senior school and prep school on one site, creating ‘a family of big sisters and little sisters’.

Sensitive refurbishment has transformed Montpelier and the Grade II listed Vicarage and Temple into wonderful learning and social spaces fit for the twenty-first century while enhancing their historic charm and character.


The ground floor used to be a library and offices, partitioned into awkward spaces. From discussions with the headteacher and GDST we brought the school’s entrance here and created a coffee-shop-style space for study, socialising, presentations, conferences and events. As the main entrance and reception it provides a lively and dynamic first impression of a forward-thinking school, and the beauty of the listed interiors is brought to the fore. The project simplifies, unites and makes beautiful. The surrounding library, presentation room and makerspace can adapt to be used separately or together.

The basement, once a cramped locker room, storage and loos, is now a music centre, comprising music classrooms, practice rooms, a flexible performance space and specialist music storage.

Up on the second floor is a new sixth form hub, subtly delineated by a plywood pop-out and a variety of furniture that the girls helped us choose in workshops. The space was an instant hit.

The Vicarage

Work to the Vicarage included removing modern interventions to restore classrooms and staff offices to their original height and character. Suitable acoustic treatment guards against noise build-up to create comfortable, functional teaching spaces.


The basement is transformed into new classrooms and breakout spaces for art, science and DT. Some minor interventions to the fabric of the building ensure these spaces receive good light and are accessible.

Where possible we added insulation and replaced windows to improve the environmental performance of the buildings. Outside, BHSL's landscape design has created new seating areas and greatly improved the quality, biodiversity and function of outdoor spaces for students of all ages to enjoy.


2023Sussex Heritage Trust Awards: Public & Community Award - highly commended


ClientThe Girls' Day School Trust – Brighton Girls

CompletionAugust 2022

Project managerBidwells

Cost consultantGleeds

Structural and Civil engineerConisbee

LandscapeBradley-Hole Schoenaich Landscape

Services engineerTroup Bywaters + Anders

AcousticsAnderson Acoustics

Principal DesignerRLF

Heritage consultantBidwells

Planning consultantNexus Planning

Building controlQuadrant Building Control

Fire consultantHilson Moran

Arboricultural and ecological consultantLockhart Garratt

Transport consultanti-Transport

ContractorNeilcott Construction