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Library and teaching block at Ipswich School

A Grade II Listed Building in Ipswich, Suffolk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.0642 / 52°3'51"N

Longitude: 1.1503 / 1°9'1"E

OS Eastings: 616039

OS Northings: 245331

OS Grid: TM160453

Mapcode National: GBR TMP.HNN

Mapcode Global: VHLBS.WCHY

Entry Name: Library and teaching block at Ipswich School

Listing Date: 3 August 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1436599

Location: Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1

County: Suffolk

District: Ipswich

Electoral Ward/Division: St Margaret's

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Ipswich

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Summary

Library and teaching block at Ipswich School, including first-floor walkway to Sherwood Building, built 1980 to 1982. It was designed by Birkin Haward of Johns, Slater and Haward of Ipswich, with Chris Gorniak as project architect and Sadler and Sons of Ipswich as builder. Stained glass was designed by John Piper and executed by Patrick Reyntiens with assistance by David Wasley.

Description

Library and teaching block at Ipswich School, including first-floor walkway to Sherwood Building, built 1980 to 1982. It was designed by Birkin Haward of Johns, Slater and Haward of Ipswich, with Chris Gorniak as project architect and Sadler and Sons of Ipswich as builder. Stained glass was designed by John Piper and executed by Patrick Reyntiens with assistance by David Wasley.

MATERIALS: it is concrete-framed with an infill of red and blue polychrome brickwork. The roof is of lattice beams with a metal deck covering.

PLAN: the building is orientated on west-north-west to east-south-east alignment but for simplicity the cardinal compass points will be used in the following description (i.e. as though it stands on an east to west axis). It comprises a rectangular-on-plan teaching block with an octagonal library at the east end. The building is carried on concrete pilotis with accommodation at first and second floor levels while the open ground floor is used as a sheltered play area. The sole interruption on the ground floor is the entrance block to the library. The building is joined to the Fison Building (1966) on the west side and by a first-floor covered walkway to the Sherwood Building (1934) on the south.

EXTERIOR: the building’s first floor bays are defined by exposed concrete pilotis that rise up through the structure to support the jettied second floor. On this floor the bays to the teaching block are delineated by expansion joints in the brickwork while the library block has no such vertical subdivision on this level. All the building’s windows, unless otherwise stated, are two-light casements with horizontal top and bottom lights and hardwood frames. The first-floor windows are all oriels, with those to the north and south sides of the teaching block being canted, while the second floor windows sit flat across the brick walling.

The north and south faces of the teaching block are both of nine bays and have an identical design save for some minor modifications to accommodate staircase and entrance bays. The first floor is accentuated by horizontal blue brick banding at floor, sill and lintel level and also at the mid-point of each window. On the second floor the banding is confined to level of the floor and the parapet. To the north face there are eight window bays whilst the ninth bay at the east end accommodates a staircase. This bay, which extends down through the pilotis to the library entrance, is emphasised by a blue brick surround and contains two oculus windows with blue brick surrounds to the half-landings. An identical staircase bay projects from the westernmost bay of the south façade while the remaining bays on this side all accommodate windows. The sole exception to this is the first floor of the ninth bay at the east end which contains wooden double doors and is linked by a covered walkway to the Sherwood Building to the south.

The library block at the east end projects beyond the building line of the teaching block with an octagonal plan. On the first floor there are triplets of two-light casements on the north and south sides while the east face has two single-light casements with top and bottom lights. At floor and lintel level there is horizontal blue brick banding while blue brick diamond pattern diaper work accentuates the east face and the angled corners. Fixed to the south-east corner is a clock donated in memory of Annabel Bolton (Old Ipswichian, 1982-1984) by her family. On the library’s second floor, the north and south faces also have triplets of two-light casements while the angled corners have oculus windows with blue brick surrounds. The east face is patterned with two rows of blue brick diamond pattern diaper work set between horizontal banding. The banding runs round this floor at the level of the sills and lintels of the north and south side windows and also at their mid-point. Blue brick banding also occurs at floor and cornice level. The deep parapet is also patterned in blue brick.

On the ground floor, set beneath the first floor waffle slab, is the main entrance block to the library. Its eastern half is comprised of a timber-framed glazed screen with central double doors. The rear section is of red brick with horizontal blue brick banding. A metal plaque to the left-hand side of the doorway reads ‘THIS BUILDING DESIGNED BY BIRKIN HAWARD OBE WITH STAINED GLASS / IN THE LIBRARY TO DESIGNS BY JOHN PIPER CH WAS ON 19TH MAY 1982 / OPENED BY SIR HUGH CASSON KCVO PRESIDENT OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY / AND DEDICATED BY JOHN LORD BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE / GEOFFREY BARNARD / CHAIRMAN / OWEN JENKINS / BURSAR / JOHN BLATCHLY / HEADMASTER’.

INTERIOR: the design of the library is planned around a central, double-height space with a two-storeyed gallery accommodating free-standing bookshelves and study areas on all sides. The gallery is constructed from timber and has an open-tread staircase providing access to the upper level. The central well is emphasised by a linear rooflight aligned on a north-south axis while four circular light wells provide additional natural light. Suspended from the wooden boarded ceiling are original pendant lights with cylindrical shades.

The roundels in the library’s canted corners are decorated with stained glass designed by John Piper and executed by Patrick Reyntiens with assistance from David Wasley. Piper deployed the theme of the Green Man which was also used to symbolise at the same time the four seasons, the four elements and the four ages of man. The north-east window, which is dedicated to Roger Cooper (1957-1980), a former pupil, denotes spring, youth and the element of fire; the south-east window, dedicated to Allan Leggett (1908-1987), Governor and benefactor of the school, symbolises summer, adulthood and air; the south-west window, which is dedicated to Patrick Bills (1961-1980), a former pupil who died in the Rocky Mountains, signifies autumn, maturity and the element of fire; and the north-west window represents winter, old age and water.

The teaching block has an east-west aligned corridor running along the south side of the range with six classrooms and an art room leading off it on the north side. The painted and plastered partition walls between the corridor and classrooms all have transom lights while the doors to each room are all set within two-light transom frames of which the second light is infilled with timber boarding. The classrooms all have skirting boards and dado rails of unpainted timber and suspended ceilings incorporating light fittings.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: a first-floor covered walkway links the teaching block with the Sherwood Building to the south. Its lower section is of brick with horizontal blue brick banding while the upper section is glazed with a gabled roof.

History

The library and teaching block at Ipswich School was built between 1980 and 1982 to the designs of the architect Birkin Haward (1912-2002) of the Ipswich firm Johns, Slater and Haward. Haward is recognised as an important architect and antiquarian, who in the 1930s was at the forefront of the Modern Movement in Britain as chief assistant to Erich Mendelsohn. After the firm of Mendelsohn and Chermayeff dissolved in 1937, Haward continued his career in London, including work on air-raid precautions with Berthold Lubetkin and Tecton. In 1941, Haward joined William Holford and Partners, but left in 1942 to become the national organiser of the Association of Architects, Surveyors and Technical Assistants, a new trade union. From April 1943 he served in the Royal Engineers, returning to England in November 1945. At this point Haward could have expected a successful career in London. He was ambitious, his experience and connections set him among the leading young architects of the time, and his second placing in an urban secondary school competition run in 1937 by the News Chronicle newspaper, had brought him attention in that field. But Haward had married an Ipswich art student, Muriel Wright, in 1936, and by the time of his demobilisation in January 1946 they had two sons, with a third on the way. He therefore decided to give up his promising London career in favour of settling with his family in Ipswich, where he was offered a position with the local practice of Johns and Slater. In the immediate post-war years the firm specialised in schools, particularly for the expanding Ipswich suburbs, with Haward being made a partner in 1949. School buildings were to form the backbone of Haward's career in Ipswich and beyond, with the library and teaching block at Ipswich School being his last major work before he retired. The project was initiated by John Blatchly, the school’s headmaster from 1972 to 1993, and a close friend of Haward’s. Blatchly’s brief, which took the form of a rudimentary architectural drawing, requested a three-storeyed building with the ground floor being left open to provide a sheltered play area. He also insisted on the enhancement of the library with stained glass windows. These were subsequently commissioned from John Piper and executed by Patrick Reyntiens with assistance from David Wasley. Work on the building, which comprised a 320 square metre library, art room and six teaching rooms, began in March 1980 under an 18 month contract valued at £370,000. It was opened on 19 May 1982 by Sir Hugh Cason and dedicated by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.

Reasons for Listing

The library and classroom block at Ipswich School, built between 1980 and 1982 to the designs of Birkin Haward of Slater, Johns and Haward of Ipswich, with stained glass designed by John Piper, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as an innovative design which reflects a modern expression of the architect's traditional approach to materials and plan-form;
* as the last work by Birkin Haward, one of the foremost post-war regional architects;
* for the high quality stained glass by John Piper, one of the most significant British artists of the C20. The fusion of art with architecture was an important component of Haward's successful design ethos;
* it remains substantially intact, retaining the aesthetic distinction of the original design which illustrates the architect's attention to detail and finish.

Historic interest:

* the collaboration between architect and School successfully provided a planning solution to the pedagogical philosophy of the day, clearly demonstrating the aspirations of a progressive independent school.

Group value:

* it forms a functional and aesthetic relationship with the Grade II-listed main school building and school chapel, both built in 1852.

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