Aboyne Lodge Primary School

This was a DfE funded project for the refurbishment of the Grade II listed Aboyne Lodge Primary, one of the celebrated post-war Hertfordshire Schools. The scheme involved bringing the building up to modern standards, whilst sensitively repairing the fabric and maintaining the character of the prefabricated steel and concrete construction system.




Education & Skills Funding Agency / Spatial Initiative



This is a refurbishment project for a post war listed school that as part of the Priority School Building Programme, funded by the Department for Education. Aboyne Lodge is a Grade II Listed, 1 form entry primary school near the centre of St Albans and is one of the celebrated Hertfordshire schools built in 1948-50 using the Hills prefabricated unit construction system. The project aimed to bring the school up to modern standards as far as possible given the constraints of the listing.

The existing building was mostly still fit for purpose in terms of layout, and given the listed status, remodelling restricted to the installation of a staff kitchen and server room. The main aspects of the project involved providing new services throughout, replacing the ceilings to upgrade the building in terms of acoustics, insulating the fabric wherever possible and providing new flooring and sanitaryware throughout.

At the same time the fabric of the building was repaired wherever possible. This included replacing the coverings to the roof, which had leaked extensively, refurbishing the original steel windows and repairing the concrete panel walls.

The original school has pastel coloured spandrel panels above the windows, and we took these as the basis for a scheme using a range of other sympathetic colours to provide a wayfinding and identification system for different age groups.

The project has extensive research into the history of the Hills system, which construction methods that were used in many respects unique to itself.

The project involved a degree of reconciling the brief to bring the building up to current standards, with the requirements to preserve existing fabric. In many cases the products, materials, and services typically found in modern schools could not be used and we had to evolve bespoke solutions whilst adhering to the normal budgetary constraints. In many instances we had to negotiate with both the DfE and the Conservation Officer and find creative solutions acceptable to both. As an example, we needed to provide a visually discreet and lightweight solution to provide adequate ventilation and avoid CO2 build-up and arrived at a mix of hybrid units and natural ventilation using purpose made louvred replacement rooflights that avoided any ductwork or new roof penetrations.

Project gallery

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The Challenge

The schools were designed around a lightweight steel frame, within tight structural tolerances. Given the age of the building it was not possible to assume that they could take additional load. At the same time the project involved installing new services, new insulation, and railings to the roof.

The Solution

We found weight reductions by changing the asphalt roof for single ply membrane or felt, by replacing the fibreboard ceilings with lightweight rafts for acoustic attenuation and by researching to find the lightest products for each situation.

The Outcome

We were able to provide new services, including a Hybrid Ventilation System, and upgrade the building in terms of acoustics, safe access and insulation whilst reducing the load on the existing structure and also exposing the original concrete planks.

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