Mitchinson's House for The King's School, Canterbury

Day house for 75 pupils that made use of a dilapidated but charming building

In 2014 Walters & Cohen was asked by The King’s School in Canterbury to design a day house for 75 pupils. Day houses are an important part of the school’s pastoral and academic structure, providing a base where non-boarding students can study, relax and socialise.

The project was the result of a space audit of the King’s estate, which identified that the existing Mitchinson’s day house had outgrown its use and occupied a site better suited to teaching accommodation. The school found a new location nearby: a charming but dilapidated Grade II listed building, the back of a neighbouring shop, and a carpark and house bordering the rear of the site.

This is a tight site that posed several challenges. It is of archaeological importance, containing the remains of a medieval hospice (a Scheduled Ancient Monument), and the listed building wears a blue plaque for its connection with racing driver Count Louis Zborowski, who reportedly built the original racing car for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the building. A sewer runs under the site, and asbestos was found in the existing property.

The day house provides study rooms, a kitchenette, a common room, lockers, and offices for the houseparent and staff. We retained the listed frontage and timber elements and demolished the derelict rear extensions to make way for new accommodation that keeps to the footprint of the old. Due to a large wall boundary on the east, a lightwell draws daylight into the deepest part of the plan, brightening and ventilating the ground floor study and social areas. Offices for the houseparent and staff are located throughout the house, and a garden room provides a link to the houseparent's residence so that students are supported throughout the day.

The project was shortlisted for a RIBA South East Award and the AJ Retrofit Awards in 2019.


2019RIBA South East Awards – shortlisted

2019AJ Retrofit Awards: School – shortlisted


ClientThe King's School, Canterbury

Total value£4m

CompletionApr 2018


Structural engineerPrice & Myers

Building ServicesSkelly & Couch

Planning consultantHobbs Parker

Project managerFanshawe

AcousticsPace Consult

ContractorR Durtnell & Sons

CDM advisorRLF

BREEAM consultantPrice & Myers Sustainability