Text description provided by the architects. Originally designed by Architects Co-Partnership (ACP) as a school for 600 children, the development was completed in 1964, named after the famous Victorian/Edwardian theatre producer-manager Lilian Mary Baylis. The school’s plan form is arranged as linked blocks creating a series of asymmetrical courtyards and the project was given a Grade II listing in 2002. The School moved in 2005 to new premises the buildings became neglected and Henley Homes bought the old school site in 2011.
The evolution of Conran and Partners’ design was informed by actively engaging with – and seeking views from – a broad range of stakeholders, including site neighbours, artists in residence, local council representatives, English Heritage, the GLA, Secured by Design, national politicians and Bob Sealy, the original architect at ACP.
Conran and Partners’ design approach converts the existing classrooms into spacious ‘60s modernist apartments juxtaposed with contemporary new homes that draw on the character of the existing historic buildings. The school has been transformed into a vibrant and unique new community, creating a development that draws on its rich history and secures a sustainable long-term future for this important set of historic buildings and the courtyard spaces they create. The listed school buildings have been restored and converted sensitively to provide a range of new homes, inspired by the design of the 1960’s architecture, together with complementary and distinctive contemporary new build dwellings, creating a total of 149 new homes, landscaped gardens, secluded plazas and community facilities that re-connect back to the wider neighbourhood.
The project provides a diversity of housing unit sizes and types, from one-bed apartments through to large family townhouses. 46 of the new homes are within the refurbished teaching blocks, drawing upon the character of the buildings originally designed by ACP. Their distinctive character creates large light-filled interiors from the generous fully-glazed classroom ends. The new masterplan opens up a scheme which was formerly closed and inward looking, providing more direct connections with the surrounding area and improving the public realm with attractive and active frontages. The project includes a new reflecting water pool in the main courtyard, as originally proposed within the 1960’s masterplan. Ranging from two to six storeys in height, the scheme responds to the scale and character of the listed buildings as well as to neighbouring buildings.
Baylis Old School offers more than four times the amount of amenity space on site than required by statutory guidance. A range of high quality private and shared spaces are provided for residents in the form of balcony areas and terraces, spacious courtyards, communal gardens with water features, seating areas and safe-play zones for younger children. A number of mature trees have been retained, supplemented with generous new planting. Mini-allotment beds have been constructed to encourage and maintain active community involvement as well as healthy lifestyle activities.
The former school hall – located wholly within the Old Baylis School development – has been retained. The developer is currently in discussions to find a suitable tenant, ideally with a community focus, for this building.