This section is from the book "Modern Buildings, Their Planning, Construction And Equipment Vol3", by G. A. T. Middleton. Also available from Amazon: Modern Buildings.
As the planning of private schools is not bound by any hard and fast rules laid down by an educational authority, there is a considerable amount of freedom if not of laxity in their planning. In fact, the majority of private schools are not specially built for that purpose, but are obtained as they best can be by altering private houses. This is unfortunate, and far from being really satisfactory. Whenever an architect is consulted, however, it is now his usual practice to conform as nearly as possible to the regulations of the Education Department, recognising that these are the outcome of long experience, and for teaching purposes, as well as for supervision, are difficult to improve upon. Thus many of the modern High Schools are exceedingly like public elementary schools in their arrangement. There are, however, a large number of private schools which cannot quite be treated in this way. There is a marked desire upon the part of certain parents for something different from the board school, and this requirement is not to be met altogether by improving the elevation. More privacy is looked for, such as is to be found in a private house. It is also generally necessary to provide a dining-room for the use of the students, as, in the majority of cases, at least some of these are boarders, while others stay to lunch. In this way new elements are introduced into the problem which an architect has to solve, while each case presents as a rule some other special requirements calling for the exercise of some skill upon the part of the designer. This is the case in each of the examples illustrated in this chapter.
To the Day School for Girls (Plate I.) it was desired to attach a Concert Hall which, while it could be used as an assembly room for special occasions by the school, could also be let off for entertainments during the holidays. The school thus partakes somewhat of the character of an ordinary hall school, but has this distinction, that a separate corridor was necessary between the hall and the classrooms, and that provision had to be made for reaching the stage from one end of this corridor, when some of the classrooms could be utilised as greenrooms. The classrooms would be under supervision from the corridor through glazed screens, but amidst them was placed the music-practising room, top lighted and surrounded by thick walls, close to an external passage for access to the heating chamber. The head-mistress' study was placed so as to command the girls' entrance, but it was of a more private character than is usual in elementary schools, for it was entered from a passage in the private house, from the end of which access to the school corridor is obtained. Any girls, however, going through from the house to the school would have to pass the glazed partition of the study, unless they went through the dining-room, which could be entered from either the house passage or the school corridor. The mistress' house was necessarily planned with some considerable regard to appearance and comfort, and contains, on the ground floor, a drawing-room and large kitchen, from which the dining-room can be served directly through a hatch. It was intended that both mistress and students shall use the same dining-room, which is of large size. The upper floor contains three bedrooms and a bathroom, besides a dormitory which is large enough for eight pupils. The school was intended to be primarily a day school, but it was expected that there would be a few boarders, and as accommodation for them could be provided in this way at a very small capital outlay, it was thought better not to reject this means of adding considerably to the income, though the head-mistress was one who did not much care for the responsibility of boarding pupils. It will be noticed that a cycle shed was provided at the back, and that the corridor would be top lighted. The elevation is of a simple and homely type, as far removed as possible from that to be found in schools, either elementary or advanced, built by public educational bodies.
Sandroyd School (Fig. 12), designed by Messrs. Treadwell & Martin, is a much more complete establishment. It is entirely a boys' boarding school, fully equipped in every way for its purpose; but it cannot be said to have been planned in accordance with the principles already discussed. One end of the site is given up to the headmaster's private house, which is a large and comfortable residence, his study opening out of his private hall, but close to a door at the end of the long main school corridor, which has classrooms on one side and a large dining-hall, centrally placed on the site, on the other. Off this main corridor there is a boys' staircase, and at its farther end it is crossed by another corridor with an external entrance, serving still more classrooms and a masters' common room. Each part of the building is well departmented. The master's house, it will be noticed, has its reception portion perfectly distinct from the servants' portion, which is very skilfully planned so as to serve either the general dining-hall or the house, with ample kitchen, larder, and pantry accommodation, and a large servants' hall. The kitchen is top lighted as well as side lighted. In the boys' portion of the school the classrooms are controlled at one end by the head-master's study, and at the other by the assistant-masters' common room, in which there is a window commanding the boys' entrance. There is a back passage way here, leading through from the far end of the dining-hall to the boys' entrance, and cutting off the classrooms from a large washing-room, such as is most valuable at a boarding school for use after cricket or football. The w.c.'s and urinals are reached through the washing-room. The boys' entrance also leads directly to the chapel, which is seated inwards, after the usual college fashion, throughout the greater part of its length, and has a number of chairs arranged in the ordinary way at the western side of the screen for the use of the servants.
On the upper floor the fact that the plan has been based on the letter E is more noticeable than on the ground floor, as several portions are not carried up. Again, the house is distinct from the school, but with a communicating door on the main corridor, close to which and near the study is a small room called the "staying-out room," in which the boys can be placed who are suffering from slight ailments such as preclude their taking part in the school work while not of sufficient severity to need their being sent to the outlying infirmary. The dormitories are placed over the classrooms, and as there are two staircases, besides means of communication with the master's house, there is ample provision for escape in case of fire. At the farther end of the dormitories from the house are placed the matron's rooms, with her sewing-room, linen-room, and the bathrooms. The absence of a general assembly hall will be noticeable, but it is rarely needed in a private boarding school. Any general notices can always be given out in the dining-hall, and probably great receptions and lectures to the whole school would seldom take place. Plans are only given of two floors, but the perspective shows that there is yet another, and the school is therefore for a private boarding school, rather a large one.
The Western Theological College, designed by Mr. H. Dare Bryan, F.R.I.B.A., is, as will be seen by Fig. 13, a somewhat special school specially treated. With men to deal with instead of children, and these educated men of a high class, close supervision is not only unnecessary but might be looked upon as somewhat of an insult. Consequently the master's house is a distinct establishment, communicating with the school itself through the principal's study and the ante-chamber to the library, from which a committee-room also opens, in convenient juxtaposition both to the principal's and to the main entrance. The school itself, including the library, has been planned as an architectural composition, on an axial line which bisects the angle formed by Hampton Road and Cotham Road. The main entrance is on the axis, and leads across a passage way to a large dining and assembly hall having a gallery round it and lighted by clerestory windows at a high level. The plan of this hall is of mediaeval type, with a buttery at the far end, through which the kitchen is reached, there being a small bedroom and sitting-room attached as servants' quarters. Thus the students' dining-room is served entirely independently of the principal's house. The students have a separate entrance, from which they pass through a cloakroom to an inner hall, where a staircase rises, and out of which opens a common room, balancing the library in another wing, both of these being comfortable rooms, with large recessed fireplaces in them. It is on the first floor that all the instruction would be given, and the lecture-rooms there, two of which are large while one is small, have been planned to a great extent for architectural effect. In fact, in such a building and with such a class of students, class teaching, as understood in children's schools, would be entirely out of place, and the arrangements have consequently to be different. There would be much more private study by the students themselves, and while some of the teaching would be by lecture, a good deal would be by individual instruction.
Fig. 12. The Western Theological College ♦ Bristol.