Dining Hall, Ralph Allen School

Having grown over the last 60 years from a school designed for 300, the Ralph Allen School in Bath is now approaching 1200 students. Large portions of the school grounds were underused or compromised from years of piecemeal funding having resulted in new buildings being sited purely through economic means and convenience, rather than for educational benefit.

The previous school dining hall was a multi-purpose space which required the school to transform it into a dining area each lunchtime, then return it back to a hall for other activities. Accordingly, one of the principle aims of the project was to create a new dedicated and purpose built dining facility, to seat as many pupils as possible with associated kitchen and staff facilities. The site for the dining hall was a former sports pitch and more latterly was used for informal car parking, and storage. Pupils were not allowed in this area, without being supervised.

The placement of the building enabled a new courtyard space for the school, and the design maximises natural daylighting and views out with large windows opening onto this new area. The primary structure is an expressed timber glulam frame with masonry infill and is naturally ventilated. It was the first building delivered from the 2020 Campus Development Plan and the associated Outline Planning Permission for the school site. The project was funded by the ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency) and delivered to a very tight budget of £2.7m which included some landscaping elements.

Ralph Allen School is a state secondary for children aged 11-18, with Academy Status (part of the Palladian Academy Trust). Feilden Fowles have worked with the school since 2009 on refurbishments to the existing school buildings, landscape interventions, a campus masterplan and four new buildings: the Lee Centre (2014), the Rose Building (2015), the dining hall (2019) and Katherine Johnson Building (2020). We are currently working with the school to update the campus masterplan to the 2030 vision.

Project: Dining Hall
Location: Ralph Allen School, Bath
Building Type: Education
Time Scale: 2018-2019
Construction cost: £1.86m
Current Status: Completed


Commissioning client: Palladian Academy Trust
Architect: Feilden Fowles
Main contractor: H. Mealing & Sons
Structural engineer: Momentum Consulting Engineers
Services engineer (pre-build): e3 Consulting Engineers
Services engineer (build): Integrated Design Partnership
QS and project management: Peter Gunning & Partners
Landscape architect: SEED

Selected Press

April 2022, Architecture Today, Works: Dining hall and Katherine Johnson Building, Ralph Allen School, Wendy Perring