Richard Huish College – Maple Building for Visual Arts and Computing

In August 2016, Futures for Somerset appointed Grainge Architects to work with Richard Huish College to design new accommodation for Visual Arts and Computing on the campus. Situated in a prominent position, the aim for the project was to replace an outdated 1950s building with a new flagship development that would increase both the quality and quantity of facilities for these courses. The aspiration to deliver University level teaching spaces for sixth form pupils, in an inspiring contemporary building was an important driver.

Located adjacent to the South Road Conservation Area, care was taken to achieve a sensitive design that met the aspirations of the College without detriment to the setting. The two-storey building takes the form of two rectilinear blocks connected by a central circulation zone. The western block follows the alignment of the adjacent buildings and courtyard, while the eastern block is subtly splayed to run parallel to South Road. The proportion and setting out of the windows, along with the zinc standing seam cladding, reference the rhythm and ordered architecture of the existing Victorian villas.

A large, north lit practical art studio and connected MAC Suite at first floor are accessed via a glazed double height entrance lobby and stair. Ground floor accommodation comprises two IT teaching spaces and two general classrooms. The sixty person art studio is designed as a single space to maximize flexibility for teaching, with bespoke moveable screens to divide the area and provide display facilities for end of term exhibitions. The exposed steel frame accentuates the generous vaulted ceilings above, with bespoke lightweight lighting rigs and mesh-ceiling grids allowing students to display and hang artwork.

In order to provide natural light to the centre of the 195sqm art studio, the sixty-thirty degree pitched roof is divided in two elements, with a series of large north-facing roof lights in each creating an even source of daylight throughout. Externally the two pitched roofs create a striking form, emphasised further by the zinc standing seam cladding wrapping from wall to roof via a concealed gutter.

The College required the building to be occupied by October half term, several weeks ahead of the programmed completion date. Having been novated to develop the detailed design by the appointed contractor Halsall Construction, Grainge Architects worked closely with Halsall to assess construction methods and reach a waterproof stage more quickly. This allowed both the exterior and interior of the building to be progressed simultaneously, accelerating the construction programme and bringing forward the completion ahead of schedule.

Grainge Architects - Richard Huish Art

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Perinatal Mother & Baby Unit, Wonford Hospital

Grainge Architects became involved in the project following Devon Partnership NHS Trust’s successful bid to NHS England to secure funding for a mother & baby unit (MBU) for the South West. The project was unique in that, of the four centres to be commissioned by the NHS nationally, this one was to be the only purpose built new building, the other three were to be refurbishments of existing buildings.

Our practice was selected on the basis of our previous mental health experience, working with the Devon Partnership NHS Trust we had successfully delivered projects at Wonford House, Langdon Hospital & Franklyn Community Hospital amongst others.

Due to the delivery challenges facing the Trust once the funding bid was secured, the design process necessitated a rapid start. We were formally appointed to commence the design of the MBU in July 2017. An intensive period of design ensued after which a detailed planning application was submitted on 29th September 2017 and planning approval was granted on the 15th January 2018.

The team began a process by both reviewing existing units and also visiting a number of recent MBU’s including Hackney, Birmingham & Bristol, bench marking good practice & compiling lessons learnt. This process combined with architectural and health care planning input as well as frequent stakeholder meetings resulted in a concept scheme being agreed upon in a relatively short timescale.

Our team worked in parallel on the initial two aspects of the project, appraising available sites for the building and establishing the fundamental design principles necessary to ensure the success of the MBU.


Grainge Architects - MBU 3


The Design Concept

Whilst the building is on three levels, the principle patient level is at ground level and is focused around a courtyard. The building wraps itself around the courtyard akin to a cloistered collegiate courtyard. This cloistered courtyard links the most important components of the MBU, such as day spaces, bedrooms, family room with the safe protected external space. The garden is the heart of the scheme. Views into and through the courtyard will ensure the MBU has an open, welcoming character, filling the building with great natural light and colour.

Grainge Architects - MBU 4

Grainge Architects - MBU 2


The building itself is small scale, with an abundance of sunlight entering through the clerestory roof-lights, natural ventilation is plentiful. A feeling of wellbeing is promoted.

The circulation space transitions between open plan rooms and corridors, avoiding an institutional enclosed feel. Individual rooms often have high vaulted ceilings and an airiness which was uncommon in many of the units we visited. The use of large amounts of glass ensures that the building blurs the boundaries between inside and out, folding doors further enhance this feeling. The courtyard garden is experienced whether the building is opened or closed, in summer or winter mode truly bringing the outside in.

Individual bedrooms have their own exterior terrace, a veranda allowing mother and baby to sit and enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of the garden.

The aesthetic of the building is a carefully handled through the use of a balance of materials, including timber cladding, render, zinc roofing and glass. The intention is to create the feeling and atmosphere of a large domestic house or small hotel as opposed to a psychiatric unit. Whilst anti-ligature safeguarding has obviously been paramount to the design process and we have worked hard to ensure that this is achieved whilst maintaining a domestic and welcoming feel to the environment.

Offices for the community outreach team are provided at lower ground floor level, access directly up into the main MBU is via a controlled staff access lift and stairs.

At 1st floor level two flats have been designed specifically for visiting family members to stay overnight on the unit. A controlled access route from the main entrance to the flats ensures visitors do not inadvertently gain access to the secure areas of the unit.

It is intended that as mothers reach the end of their stay on the MBU they will be able to walk with their babies through the gardens of Wonford Hospital site to enjoy the landscape of the hospital and the wider area.

The building is designed to Breeam excellent standard & incorporates a number of energy reducing features. Inherent, passive features have been favoured ranging from high performance building fabric and low energy fixtures up to allowance for future connection to the local district heating main.

The building has just started on site and we are currently finalising the FF&E, interior design.


Grainge Architects - MBU 1


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Digital Humanities Labs, University of Exeter

The University of Exeter appointed Grainge Architects in 2015 to design a new home for their digital humanities department, which has recently been completed by Morgan Sindall. The visually striking design responded to the client’s desire for a building with ‘wow’ factor, announcing the state of art facilities on the Campus. A vibrant patina green clad ‘floating’ box with a ‘picture frame’ glazed end and delicate brise soleil skirt to the front of the building was designed to create a landmark building on a relatively small budget compared to other building on the campus. The patina standing seam cladding references the copper roofs of the surrounding university buildings.

The extension to the Queen’s Building maximises the potential of an un-used site at the corner of two existing buildings in order to create a new entrance, media wall seminar space and post-graduate study areas. These new spaces connect a series of refurbished rooms in order to house recording, photography and 3D scanning studios. An industrial aesthetic for the interior, with exposed services and painted brickwork, combined with bold splashes of colour knit together the existing and new spaces to create a unified department.

One of the largest media walls in the South West is the focus of the scheme, allowing staff and students to view and interact with digital copies of physical objects, protecting the original artefacts for future generations. The extension was designed with the media wall at its heart, located in a ground floor seminar room adjacent to a new double height entrance lobby. A glazed folding partition between the two spaces also allows the wall to be used for exhibitions and open days.

First floor study areas overhang the ground floor accommodation, providing solar shading to the south façade and creating shelter at the building entrance. To encourage interaction with students from other departments, floor to ceiling glazing wraps around the media wall hub, allowing passers-by to engage with the activities within. This new home for the digital humanities department will help to ensure that the University of Exeter remains at the forefront of international research into historical and cultural artefacts.

Grainge Architects - Queens Building

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Grainge Architects seek New Team Members

Over the last few years Grainge Architects have developed a strong diverse team of Architects, Urban Designers, Interior Designers, Architectural Assistants, Technicians & Secretarial Staff who all all contribute to the professional service that our clients receive.

Our current team of twenty four have been specifically chosen to ensure a strength & depth of experience, drawing from all aspects of the profession. We have a senior management team which includes two Directors, two Associate Directors and four Associate Architects who lead individual teams on specific projects. A number of the smaller projects are then run by individual Architects & Designers.

We operate from an open plan studio space which ensures that all members of staff are exposed to the day to day running of the company, both learning & experiencing the complexities of architectural practice and the Practice Owners and Directors James & Tony have the opportunity to oversee all projects undertaken in the office.

We also have a programme of continuing professional development with visiting presentations & regular staff meetings to discuss various architectural issues and developments.

Our office is really quite sociable with regular get togethers, our 5 aside football team has even become quite competitive of late.

We have helped a number of students gain their part 1 & part 2 professional experience, several of whom have returned to become valued permanent staff members.

Currently Tony is visiting various West Country Architectural End of Year Shows hoping to find next years placement Part 1 & Part 2 Students. So if you are interested in joining us please get in touch.

Grainge Architects - May 2017

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Continuing the rejuvenation of Exeters Historic Quayside.

Grainge Architects have submitted a planning application for a new restaurant on the Piazza Terracina, Exeter Quay to expand on and continue the redevelopment of Exeter Quayside.

This elegant new building has been purpose designed for Rockfish, the highly successful group of family run restaurants based on the South Coast of England. Mitch Tonks who runs the group helped the Grainge team develop the concept for this highly bespoke building. Early input from the Exeter Planning team has helped shape this building and it’s material treatment. The proposed single storey pavilion has been carefully developed to relate to its immediate context, echoing the sites former industrial past. It’s low horizontal engineered feel will ensure it modestly relates to the more dominant existing industrial warehouses & the former Electricity Generating Building, now a successful climbing centre.

The building is conceived as two glass boxes connected via a stone clad central core. The flat roof will be planted with greenery ensuring its fifth elevation is comfortably integrated within its unique setting. The buildings of the Listed Colleton Crescent will look across the River Exe down onto the scheme. The glass sides of the building ensure the existing piazza retains its open feel, allowing passersby to see through the building from the riverside walk through to the Exeter Ship Canal.

Patrons of the restaurant will enjoy a near 360 degree view of the historic quay side area, whilst a sunny terrace will provide outside dining ensuring the building isn’t just a  closed off development but rather, part of the quayside and Piazza.

This development is proof of the continuing successful rejuvenation of the Quay area. Along with recent developments such as the Samuel Jones Pub & the Water Sports Centre this proposed contemporary building will add to the rich heritage of Exeter Historic Quay.

Grainge Architects - Rockfish Restaurant

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Chagford Primary School

Grainge Architects have worked with Kier Construction to gain planning approval for a new school on the site of the existing Chagford Primary School within the boundary of Dartmoor National Park.

The scheme is part of the Government’s ‘Priority School Building Programme’, transforming some of the most run-down schools in the country, ensuring children and young people are being taught in an environment where they can fulfil their potential. Within the current programme of Education Funding Agency projects the new school represents one of only eight successful bids, proposed by Devon County Council for replacement schools, in the whole of the County.

Over the last year the design team led by Grainge Architects has developed this design whilst working closely with the EFA, Headteacher and School Staff,  School Governing Body, Community & the Dartmoor National Parks Authority. Through this intensive process a design was conceived which integrates the detailed functional requirements of the EFA, and the Schools own requirements with the design sensitivity necessary when building within the the Dartmoor National Park.

The new School will relate to its immediate context in terms of positioning, scale & massing but also in terms of the materials used. The white rendered facades, pitched slate roofing & clad apexed school hall all combine to anchor the proposed school in Chagford’s rich architectural heritage. The landscape setting of the school has been carefully conceived to ensure that an attractive & appropriate entrance to the Stannary Town of Chagford is achieved. Visitors to the town will firstly notice the School Hall, displaying its natural ventilation chimneys and demonstrating the building’s green credentials.

Great care has been taken to create the best possible healthy learning environment through sensitive design, with high levels of natural daylight & ventilation being achieved. Classrooms are specifically tailored to deliver the school curriculum; early years provision is excellent with direct access to safe external play space in line with statutory requirements. A larger new school hall has been provided, which will now enable the statutory PE curriculum to be fully delivered. The Hall will also function as a community facility; secure zones of access have been designed into the proposal to limited areas of the building which will be opened up for evening & weekend community use.

The new building will be built on the existing playing field to the front of the existing site, then new external play areas & sport facilities are to be recreated on the site of the old building. First & foremost, the children’s education will not be interrupted. They will be able to stay in the existing building while the new school is constructed and make one move to their new environment with no dependency on temporary accommodation. The new site layout allows for segregation of cars & children, so a far safer school will result from this proposal. Service deliveries, staff & visitor parking are provided in a purpose built car park set apart from the pedestrian entrances. Level access throughout the school & grounds will ensure access is easy for all.

Our design will ensure future generations of Chagford get a purpose built new school building appropriate to the 21st Century.

Grainge Architects - Chagford Primary School

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City Centre Redevelopment, Exeter

Grainge Architects have secured planning approval for the redevelopment of the Honiton Inn site in Paris Street, Exeter. The scheme includes the demolition of the existing derelict public house & its replacement with a 9 Storey Mixed Use Development containing Cafe / Bar & Student Accommodation. The student facilities include Common Room, Gymnasium, Cinema, Laundry, and secure bike storage.

The scheme was developed in close consultation with both the Exeter City Council Planning Team & the input from an RIBA Design Review Panel. Officer recommendation to approve was obtained even though in excess of 2500 objections were received regarding the loss of the existing public house.

The student accommodation will provide a combination of cluster flats & individual studios. The shared living spaces to each cluster flat will provide uninterrupted views out over the Exeter skyline.

Materials proposed for the exterior elevation were chosen to sit comfortable with the neighbouring buildings of the Southernhay Conservation Area.

The Grainge Architects team was commissioned by the landowner, Devonshire Dumplings who are a local business group. “Securing planning approval for this landmark site, opposite Exeter City Council’s soon to be built Princeshay Leisure Centre is an amazing start for 2017” suggests Tony Pollintine, Director at Grainge Architects.

Grainge Architects Honiton Inn Development

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Exeter Cookery School

60 Haven Road is a Grade II listed building that sits alongside Exeter Quay and the canal. The two-storey warehouse had been redundant and empty for a number of years, before a culinary couple had a vision to transform the ground floor into a cookery school.

Jim Fisher, former Masterchef semi-finalist, and his wife, Lucy, set out to create a place where they could share with students their knowledge of French and English cuisine alike.

With the large open plan internal space that the building offered and an outside decking area overlooking the water, the potential for an exciting and vibrant scheme was readily apparent. A change of use had been granted at the beginning of 2016, to convert the ground floor into accommodation for the school, with associated facilities for staff and customers. The first floor is expected (subject to leases being agreed) to be used as an open plan office with its own facilities (ie WCs etc).

As responsible architects, we aimed to maintain the existing interesting features of the Grade II listed building while adapting the interiors to suit the needs of a cookery school and possible future tenants. The proposal had minimal effect directly on any of the noted historic features, however care had been taken to respect the listed status more broadly as well as generally to be sympathetic to the inherent nature of the building, and the internal features (notably the columns and first floor structures).

On the Ground floor, it was decided that the relatively recent interior partitions were to be removed to provide an open plan space for the cookery school while providing a new layout for services such as WCs, shower room, pantries, utilities and offices.

While designing the elevations, we took into account the existing window patterns and replaced unsuitable glazing with Crital windows to match existing thereby ensuring a coordinated over-view.

Once planning and building regulations were approved, work was quickly started under the watchful eye of the Fishers. Before long, the vision was taking place and the true character of the warehouse was revealed.

The finished development is successful, with the large open plan room feeling inviting, with the contrast of sharp clean walls and rustic sand blasted existing brick. The exposed ventilation pipes and service runs have kept the feel of the warehouse features while the sofa area and informal seating brings a homely feel.

Exeter Cookery School opened for business in early August 2016.

Grainge Architects - Exeter Cookery School

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Architect designed new 300sqm home for £350k!

A build cost of £1,166 per sqm can usually only be associated with a industrial shed type building, typically bespoke residential projects cost in the region of £1,500 – £2,500  per sqm.

When a young farming couple initially approached our practice regarding designing a fairly large new family home on their farmland, we where concerned their aspirations did not match their budget.

As responsible architects we need to manage our clients expectations, ensuring the design is deliverable within the budget.

Whilst developing the project brief it became apparent that the floor area was going to be fairly large & this necessitated some clever thinking as to how the project could be delivered within the maximum budget the clients wished to commit to the project.

On a visit to the proposed site for the new building, we noticed a partially completed barn our farmer clients were in the process of building.  It became apparent that the couple & their farm team were well versed in assembling simple barn structures. This was the moment the project changed from being a traditional build to a true self build scheme.

Our suggestion quickly became “what if you put a simple portal frame up as you have done may times before & a traditional builder assembles a house around the steel portal frame”.

The idea was born & we had a brief meeting with a steel fabricator who advised his buildings wobbled more than traditional houses. Stiffer members soon sorted that out & a frame was designed & priced for approximately £22k.

We then set about getting planning permission for the replacement of an existing farm tithe dwelling with a 21st century barn home, Teignbridge District Council approved the scheme earlier this year.

Detailed design commenced with a strict budget not to exceed £300k, excluding the steel frame and modest contingency (no vat on new buildings). Materials sympathetic to the surrounding farm buildings were chosen, including Big 6 profiled roof sheeting, blackened weather boarding & red brick. High performance glazing & curtain walling combined with an external solar shading system & galvanised rainwater goods completed the aesthetic of the building. The interior of the building include a double height atrium space over the principle open plan living area. A wood burning stove combined with underfloor heating & a highly insulated walling system combine to reduce the energy demand of the building. Maximising natural light & achieving good levels of natural ventilation are the key drivers in terms of the buildings large windows. An Attenuation Pond & Suds drainage system are all part of the final design.

Grainge Architects - 3d Image

Grainge Architects - 3d Image

Grainge Architects - 3d image

The project is currently under construction with completion planned for later this year,  with the contingency allowance still in place we are confident the building will be delivered on time & on budget. This project demonstrates Grainge Architects commitment to achieving good design whilst working to a budget, most importantly we have done this & exceeded our clients expectations in terms of design quality.

Grainge Architects - Self Build

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New Housing at Seabrook Orchards, Exeter.

The first phase of our Seabrook Orchards development is taking shape on the Topsham Road to the east of Exeter.

This scheme derives its character from the local area. Local distinctiveness has been achieved within the scheme by the promotion of a design code which was based upon a detailed examination of the local vernacular architecture of Topsham & the most coherent residential suburbs of Exeter. A rich & varied hierarchy of streets, lanes, mews, cycleways & pedestrian footways has been created within the scheme.

An Architectural language has been developed in terms of differing layers of detail being applied to individual house types. “Premier”, “Enhanced” & “Traditional” versions of similar plan configurations / house types are proposed. The ‘Premier’ style buildings are located at key positions within the site, the enhanced versions are generally located to establish place making characteristics, finally the traditional version complete the streets.

A deliberately clear spatial strategy exists whereby private space is located to the rear within perimeter blocks, semi private space is defined via walls & railings to the front & sides of individual houses. The main public realm areas are located to the front of the houses ensuring that privacy & security is maintained throughout the development. A rich palette of materials are proposed which should all weather in a sympathetic & gentle manner ensuring the character of the overall development is established early on in the scheme.

Grainge Architects Seabrook Orchards

We are excited to confirm we are just beginning to develop the detailed design of the next phase of the scheme. This element will both complete the Topsham Road frontage & most importantly deliver the new Church School to the heart of the scheme.

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