Fresh designs for proposed College boarding house unveiled

Written by Peter Davison on .

Architect Andrew Nevin and deputy master Peter BryanArchitect Andrew Nevin and deputy master Peter BryanFresh designs for a new Marlborough College boarding house at one of the gateways to the town went on display yesterday (Thursday) after previous designs were condemned by experts and members of the public.

Residents were invited to meet and discuss the plans with architects – with the College keen to ensure people buy in to the new design.

In all, 91 members of the public passed through the door.

Visitors were told to expect a modern building sympathetic to its natural environment and the buildings around it. There won’t be stone mullion windows or Corinthian columns, but neither will the new boarding house look like a budget hotel.

The College has appointed Allies & Morrison, a London-based firm of architects renowned for designing new buildings in historic settings. Colleges at Cambridge and a building at the Royal Observatory are among their portfolio.

The team has been staying in the town – at the historic Green Dragon – and has been studying the buildings in High Street, the main Marlborough College campus, and the existing boarding houses along Bath Road for inspiration.

The horseshoe shaped building is inspired by nearby rural courtyard buildingsThe horseshoe shaped building is inspired by nearby rural courtyard buildingsArchitect Andrew Nevin told Marlborough News Online: “We have looked at the existing buildings for inspiration and will incorporate features from them, but the new building won’t be a pastiche of what’s there already – we’ll be taking the palette and using a modern hand.”

The architects have suggested a horseshoe-shaped design, rather than the long brick wall that the previous design would have delivered. “Approaching the building from either direction along Bath Road you’ll be met with a gable end, which gives the building a dynamic and constantly-changing appearance,” said Mr Nevin.

The design also allows the building to nestle into the dip on Elmhurst Triangle – known locally as The Paddock – reducing the visual impact both from Bath Road and from the houses at College Fields. The new design also works around listed trees on the site.

Back in March, the College announced its desire to build a new boarding house opposite the College Chapel and Memorial Hall.

But the College was – literally – sent back to the drawing board after the designs were criticised by conservation body Historic England, which said the building would have “a marked impact on the Conservation Area’s character and its immediate setting” and demanded “improvements”.

Conceptual sketches show how the interior space might be used. A courtyard garden will enhance the exterior viewConceptual sketches show how the interior space might be used. A courtyard garden will enhance the exterior viewHistoric England is being consulted on the new design, as are Wiltshire Council planners. The new designs have found favour with the paying client, Marlborough College.

Deputy master Peter Bryan, who was also on hand to meet residents yesterday, told Marlborough News Online “We are pleased with the way the design is evolving. It’s in an important position and we want something of architectural significance.”

Having unveiled their initial designs, the architects will be considering the views of people at yesterday’s consultation exercise before returning to the town in November with more detailed proposals. They hope to put an application in front of Wiltshire planners before Christmas.

The College hopes the doors to the new facility will open in time for the start of the 2018 school year.

If granted permission, the boarding house – which will provide accommodation for 71 female students, as well as living space for two house mistresses and their families – will be named Dancy House after former Master, John Dancy, who introduced girls to the College for the first time nearly 50 years ago.

It will be the College’s 16th House.