Refurbishment of the Performing Arts Centre at Downside School, the leading Catholic independent boarding school for boys and girls in Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Radstock, Somerset.

  • Contract value: £650k
  • Architect: Lee/Fitzgerald Architects
  • Contract duration: 22 weeks
  • Form of contract: JCT Standard Form of Building Contract with Contractor’s Design


Works included refurbishment and alteration to the existing theatre reception, toilet facilities, adjacent performing arts classrooms and creation of new state of the art recording studio with music editing suites. Along with the introduction of two new steel staircases to offer access from the existing mezzanine floor.

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Key Project Stats

dB acoustic walls
Music practice rooms created

Challenges & solutions

  • Our works were carried out in a live school environment during term time. We had to meticulously programme around key school activities including exams and army cadet training to ensure minimal disruption to the pupils and staff.
  • Disruption of key services e.g. communal heating main, serving multiple buildings needed to be altered and diverted. We also found an unknown live watermain running through site which had to be capped, diverted and reenergised.
  • There were challenges around the acoustic elements of the building; we had to ensure that the new ventilation and mechanical services integrated to the auditorium without affecting sound acoustic insulation. We had to manage the coordination of specialist sound recording studio contractors, sound engineers, specialist wiring and acousticians within a live working construction environment.
  • There were technical design issues including temporary works/propping/false work and integrating new steel structure and handrailing/balcony within existing building tolerances. In order to overcome this, we held regular design team meetings at an early stage to ensure the designs would integrate before any construction work started. Due to limited space and to cause minimal disruption, we made some items offsite and had to make alterations on site.
  • Due to planning, historical building/period building features windows and key materials were sourced from specialist contractors to match period/architectural features on extended procurement deliveries.

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