Horris Hill School David Brownlow Theatre

Skelly & Couch provided full environmental M&E on the David Brownlow Theatre in the grounds of Horris Hill prep school in rural Berkshire.

Designed to host school assemblies, music recitals and drama productions, the widely-praised development comprises three spaces that activate the entire 85-acre campus: a congregating space around the entrance portico; a 160-seat indoor auditorium and performance space; and an outdoor amphitheatre facing the woods and school playing fields.

Natural materials create a passively-ventilated theatre within the wooded setting and the 528 square-metre building has been constructed using a cost-effective and time-reducing cross-laminated timber (CLT) structure, representing a saving of 40 tonnes of CO2 compared to traditional blockwork.

The building’s exterior is clad with Viroc wood fibre panelling, which was machine-cut off-site from sheets to reduce waste, and pieced together by hand as one object of joinery.

Skelly & Couch carried out energy and thermal modelling of the innovative building which has an EPC rating of B. Its undulating ceiling was acoustically modelled to project sound from the stage into the autitorium while storage and washroom facilities are concealed beneath the raked seating. 

Shortlisted for a Building Award 2021 as Small Project of the Year (up to £5m). 

Highly commended in the 2021 Wood Awards - Education & Public Sector Category. woodawards2021.online/shortlists/dav

Named one of the top 10 British architecture projects of 2021 by Dezeen magazine.

Winner of a 2023 RIBA South Award. The RIBA judges commented: "The building’s centrepiece is a 160-seat auditorium and performance space, providing an intimate setting for school assemblies, music recitals and drama productions. The jury felt the space was reminiscent of a Jacobean theatre and applauded the use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) and passive ventilation to reduce carbon emissions in both construction and operation." See the full citation: https://www.ribaj.com/buildings/regional-awards-2023-south-jonathan-tuckey-design-horris-hill-school-theatre-education-newbury