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Katherine Johnson Building

The Katherine Johnson Building was delivered as the second phase of Ralph Allen School’s masterplan, providing a new eight-classroom teaching block for the Maths department, with a staff room, learning resource room and WC facilities. The building reflects the light masonry palette found throughout the site, with generous covered external staircases and balconies. Each classroom is dual aspect, benefiting from views to the landscaped courtyard and/or to the valley beyond. The centrally located staff room and LRC, provide passive supervision of the courtyard. The generous circulation space allows views to the outdoors in all directions and provides ample room during the change-over in classes.

The new courtyard continues the language of the existing landscaped gardens between the buildings across the school site. The external teaching spaces and circulation at ground floor help reduce the pressure off internal circulation at busy times, whilst creating relaxed opportunities for socialising and interaction, away from the playing fields. The building location, within the school site, was an under-utilised and neglected part of the site, previously having been used for car parking, storage, and as an informal sports area, although pupils were not allowed in this area, without being supervised.

The building was completed to a tight budget and handed over to the client on time. The fortunate timing gave the school eight additional classrooms in order to implement their covid related procedures. Although conceived and designed prior to the recent pandemic, the underlying concepts of the building create a healthy environment and promote good hygiene. All ground floor classrooms (and WC area) can be accessed directly from the outside, alleviating pressure on the internal corridors, and providing external teaching space. At ground floor a wash trough is provided in the WC area for easy access to hand washing facilities.

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: Katherine Johnson Building (teaching block)
Location: Ralph Allen School, Bath
Building Type: Education
Time Scale: 2019-2020
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: e3 Consulting Engineers
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