Recently Completed: Van Hasselt Centre, Cranleigh School

The van Hasselt Centre is a new teaching building at the heart of Cranleigh School, an independent boarding school in Surrey. Designed by Allies and Morrison, this new academic building enhances the School’s commitment to the humanities. It is also an intrinsically sustainable project; rather than build an entirely new building, disused squash courts have been recycled to create an altogether different place.

Across two levels, twenty-four classrooms wrap around the old courts, with their original brick walls retained. The courts have been reimagined as a new interactive heart for an expanded building as a new social hub and café. This layout encourages student interaction and provides a focal point for a sense of community and ownership.

Timber cladding, used in the elevations and roof finishings, was chosen as a modest material that complements the brickwork of the original buildings. Economic to build, the external architectural language relates directly to its construction, using modular building elements to define the rhythm of its facade, maximising its efficiency and ensuring its future adaptability. Generous insulation and natural ventilation throughout help to create a building that promotes the wellbeing of its users and significantly lowers energy.  

The van Hasselt Centre is the latest in several projects the practice has realised for leading schools. Dancy House, a new boarding house at Marlborough College completed this past autumn, and a new building for King’s College Wimbledon won an RIBA Award in 2017.