New Girls House for Shrewsbury School
The historic public school went fully co-ed 2014. To meet demand, it now needs a new house for girls. So they held an invited architectural competition and AJA emerged the victor.
The school is famed for its picturesque setting on a plateau above the river Severn. The site for the new house is on the edge of the campus with panoramic views towards the centre of Shrewsbury. The design by AJA makes the most of those views with a huge moon gate window on the double-height house hall. This space is at the end of the building which wraps around a centuries-old cedar of Lebanon creating a private garden for the girls.
The house sits beside Hodgson Hall, the teaching block also designed by AJA. The architectural language of the new building is less formal than the academic building, with a lively syncopated rhythm to the bedroom windows. But it does pick up on the arched doorway to Hodgson Hall with arches of a more domestic scale. These arches, combined with the steep-pitched roofs, dormers and tall ventilation stacks imbue the house with a whiff of Arts and Crafts architecture, albeit with a strong contemporary treatment in the detailing.
The ventilation stacks not only reference the chimneys of the Edwardian neighbour, but also flag the sustainability of the building, which will have an extremely low carbon footprint in use. This is achieved with a ‘fabric first’ highly insulated and airtight skin, plus a mechanical ventilation system using the stacks for intake and expulsion, air source heat pumps and a large array of PV panels on the roof.
The proposal has now been submitted for planning permission.