A bespoke reinvention of a Grade II listed former school campus in the heart of Lambeth. Conran and Partners respecting the old school’s charisma and charm, converting the space into a new set of homes with a unique identity and presence.
The Lilian Baylis School was named in honour of the theatre producer Lilian Mary Baylis, who once ran The Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells. It was designed in the 1960s by ACP Architects and following the later relocation of the school, was released to the developer Henley Homes.
Conran and Partners were invited to reinvent the old campus based on a sustainable vision. The ambition was to preserve and reuse the existing spaces, building on the unique identity of the expressed concrete structure, expansive brickwork and generous runs of glazing with linked blocks, while adding some subtle new extensions to create 149 homes.
The existing classroom blocks were converted into apartments with the generous original windows retained and restored to flood the living spaces with natural daylight. The apartments within the old classrooms and library look over a series of asymmetrical garden squares and communal courtyards, which include planting and water features.
These help define the special character of the project as a whole, while enhancing the experiential quality of daily living at the Baylis Old School, along with integrated play areas for families.
As well as the more modest extensions, the site also offered sufficient space to create some substantial new additions, with a combination of brick-faced townhouses and apartments in a U-shaped formation connecting with both the surrounding streetscape and broader neighbourhood, as well as providing additional communal gardens to the rear.
Within the conversion, nothing is standard or repeatable, so each apartment is inherently unique with bespoke characteristics. A once derelict set of buildings has been transformed into a vibrant and unique new community, creating a bespoke development that draws on its rich history and secures its long-term future for this important set of buildings and the courtyard spaces they create.
The practice worked excelled with their expertise and experience working with heritage buildings and engaging with existing communities. The reinvention of the former school as a residential development is a new approach to living in the 21st century.