Wycombe Abbey Innovation and Design Centre

How to design a design centre (innovatively)

We’re currently working on a new Innovation and Design Centre (IDC), which will provide Wycombe Abbey with a blended learning environment for engineering, arts and technology. The IDC replaces facilities that were undersized and not fully accessible, which also posed a challenge for material deliveries. Sitting close to the performing arts centre that we are also refurbishing, the IDC contributes to a new lakeside arts quarter.

This is not an easy site. Located in a conservation area, a Grade II listed historic park and garden, and in Flood Zone 3, responding to all these sensitivities cleverly and carefully seems particularly appropriate to the building’s focus on innovation and design. The scale and massing is informed by the neighbouring performing arts centre and screened by trees, sitting discreetly in the landscape. A perforated steel solar panel on the southwest façade provides solar shading and an attractive feature at the main entrance, bringing dappled light into the gallery space. The pupils are enjoying collaborating with us on patterns for the panel.

The building includes design studios, a large workshop, fine art studios, textiles and a ceramics studio. A central, double-height gallery space is the heart of the building and can be used for exhibitions, events, break-out teaching and includes a sandwich bar so pupils can eat there if they’re immersed in their projects.


ClientWycombe Abbey

Area948 m2

Cost ConsultantGardiner & Theobald


Structure & CivilsPrice & Myers

Building Services & AcousticsMax Fordham

Planning & HeritageLUC

CDM advisorMGAC

Approved Inspector (Building Control)Cook Brown