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BATLEY GRAMMAR SCHOOL – CREATING SPACE FROM THIN AIR 

BATLEY GRAMMAR SCHOOL – CREATING SPACE FROM THIN AIR 

As an architect there’s nothing more satisfying when your vision becomes a reality, especially when you have faced and overcome many challenges during the project.   Our work at Batley Grammar School in 2016, to create a new library and additional classroom space, definitely posed many challenges and we had to think strategically and creatively, but we made the vision come to life and the students and staff are now reaping the benefits.  

The Library 

You would think that creating a new library and adding more classroom space would be a reasonably straight forward project, but trust me when I tell you that wasn’t the case at Batley Grammar.  Initially, when looking at the space available and what the needs of the school were, it seemed that we were going to have to pull space for the new library out of thin air. 

Batley Grammer School original assembly hall

The original assembly hall at Batley Grammer School.

 

And yes, that’s exactly what we did, we put the library in the air!  By creating a new steel mezzanine floor in the old hall we were able to utilise what was previously unused space and create a larger library that was more fit for purpose. 

Construction of the steel mezzanine floor

Constructing the new steel mezzanine floor

Erecting the structure for the mezzanine floor

Erecting the structure for the mezzanine floor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Stain Glass Windows 

Ok, so one problem solved and it was straight on to the next.  The stain glass windows!  Batley Grammar School is the home of two stunning stain glass windows.  The windows were given to the school in 1918, one by the Earl of Wilton, and one by the architect, Walter Hanstock to commemorate those who never made it home from the battlefields of WW1, including Hanstock’s own son, John, a former student of the school.   

Stained glass windows bestowed to Batley Grammer School in 1918

Stained glass windows bestowed to Batley Grammer School in 1918

 

The importance of the windows was made very clear and we needed to find a way to incorporate them into the plans.  Thinking caps on and we were able to create a design that utilised them as a feature in the new corridor we created.  Problem solved!  Well, no, not completely!  Having no experience with stain glass windows we had to turn for expert help to see if the windows could be removed, renovated and relocated.  Fortunately, we were able to turn to Martin Johnson and Co to make this vision become a reality. 

Batley Grammar School Stained Glass Window

Stained Glass Window bestowed on the school in 1918.

The Construction Process 

But the need to flex our creative muscle didn’t stop there.  Doorways too small for dumper trucks, timber floors not strong enough to take the loading, how would we erect a steel frame without removing a window?  We strategically planned each step of the process and we didn’t stop until it was complete.   

Well that must be all the challenges addressed right?  Well not exactly.  The project needed to be broken down into small phases and completed during the school holidays only.  We also had to make sure that during term time all areas were safe and secure.  We utilised 5 holiday shut down periods for the phasing so that we didn’t interfere with the school’s operations.  We were fortunate to be working alongside Cleckheaton construction on this project.  They took the lead on the phasing of this project and it was their meticulous planning that enabled the project to completed on time and an amazing 7% under budget! 

The challenges we faced in this project actually made the outcome much more satisfying and is a testament to the team here are Martin Walsh Architectural, that when we have a vision we’ll do everything we can to make it happen.  It’s great to see the new library and classrooms have made a positive impact on the students and staff at Batley Grammar School and that we’ve been able to breathe new life into a large historic hall that was under used in many ways.  We couldn’t have done it without the help of Martin Johnson and Co and Cleckheaton Construction.  A job well done by all involved! 

 

“For Batley Grammar School we had to think strategically and creatively, but we made the vision come to life and the students and staff are reaping the benefits.

Marcus Walsh

Director, MWA