St Paul's School

New general teaching building knitted into St Paul's complex riverside site

In 2012 Walters & Cohen won an invited competition to design a new teaching building at St Paul’s School in Barnes, London. Founded in 1509 by humanist John Colet, it is one of the best independent schools for boys in the country.

The new building replaces facilities provided by 1960s CLASP buildings, which had reached the end of their lifespan. Consultation with the school community helped develop the brief and ensure the building meets the school's high standards. At more than 9,000m2, it comprises classrooms, a library, dining hall, kitchen, administrative offices, a chapel, hall and social spaces, including a generous multi-purpose Atrium. Phased demolition and construction minimised disruption.

The building is arranged in an L-shape in order to connect to buildings on either side on all levels, and enclose the central green courtyard known as Founder’s Court. Elegant vertical piers set out an irregular rhythm and form an integral part of the building's energy efficiency, providing natural ventilation, solar shading and noise attenuation. The relationship with the Thames was also important to the design: the building provides an attractive impression of the school from the Thames path, and the dining hall and library benefit from views towards the river.

The High Master, Mark Bailey, commented on our 'positive, purposeful and productive partnership' with the school: 'Walters & Cohen has got under the skin of what we want and need, and they continue to retain their focus on delivering a building that meets those needs. They want the building to be a joy to work in, not just a joy to behold. An architectural practice with flair and expertise, and without ego.'

The project won an AIA UK Award in 2020, was highly commended by the Concrete Society and shortlisted for the London RIBA Awards and AJ Awards. It is a regional finalist for the 2022 Civic Trust Awards. The AIA judges commented on the calmness of the spaces - clearly designed for learning and interaction - and the quality of light throughout the building.


2021RIBA London Awards – shortlisted

2020The Concrete Society Awards – highly commended

2020AIA UK Awards – award winner

2021AJ Architecture Awards: School - shortlisted

2022Civic Trust Awards – regional finalist


ClientSt Paul's School

Total valueConfidential

CompletionPhase 1 completed October 2017; Phase 2 in March 2020

Area9,518 m2

Project managerMetis Projects



Structural & civil engineersAKT II

Façade consultantEckersley O'Callaghan

M&E engineer & acousticsMax Fordham LLP

LandscapeBradley-Hole Schoenaich Landscape

Building controlButler & Young Approved Inspectors

Arboricultural consultantClive Fowler Associates

Planning consultantLichfields

CDM advisorRobinson Low Francis

Signage designStudio Fernando Gutiérrez