This project concerned the new offices for Reflex Marine, a supplier and developer of off-shore access solutions, in lay terms the capsules with which personnel can be safely lifted onto and off oil platforms and wind farms. Being a very young and rapidly growing company, they sought premises with built-in charm and the possibility for an extension in the near future. They found Old School House, in Shortlanesend, part of Truro, capital of Cornwall.
The Old School is indeed an old, Victorian primary school, with a large school hall and two classrooms. Beautiful neo-gothic windows were its main charm at the time of purchase, because the building was in a very bad state. It was also marked as a monument. ZEST clearly saw the potential of the interior spaces’ great height, and designed a mezzanine over the entire rear of the building, running from the classroom on the right, through the school hall and into the classroom on the left, accessible with a new staircase. This left the front of the building entirely double height, but increased the floor space by 65%. Underneath the mezzanine, smaller dedicated offices were located, plus kitchen and toilet areas, while the mezzanine created large flexible open plan workspaces upstairs.
The mezzanine was designed as a light weight construction which can easily be removed by a future owner of the building, and as such is not a degradation of the monument. By adding a whole series of new Velux windows, the amount of daylight was further increased. The entire building was completely insulated, a new floor was constructed to replace the old, rotten beams, and the neo gothic windows were renewed in hardwood with high standard double glazing. All flooring is oak engineered floor boards on top of under floor heating, fed by a pellet boiler housed (along with its pellet store) in what used to be the outhouses of the school (external toilets), which had to be maintained as a structure.
For the rapidly expanding staff of this company, ZEST has already prepared the design of a large extension to the Old School House, which will largely be placed underground, with little visual impact for the monumental building, and virtually zero energy consumption.