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Accolade for Thetford school project

PUBLISHED: 09:22 13 June 2008 | UPDATED: 21:07 07 July 2010

CONVERSION of listed buildings at Thetford Grammar School into a new sixth form centre and drama studies centre has won a major award for its Cambridge-based architects.

CONVERSION of listed buildings at Thetford Grammar School into a new sixth form centre and drama studies centre has won a major award for its Cambridge-based architects.

AC Architects won a regional silver award in the International Green Apple Awards which recognise environmental best practice around the world. They used traditional skills to convert and extend The Cloisters at the school.

The project will now be featured in the next National Treasures guide and the practice will also be presented with a prestigious Green Plaque later in the year, during a special prize giving ceremony at the House of Commons.

The trophies are awarded each year for building projects that enhance the built environment and/or protect architectural heritage.

The drama studio is a conversion of the curious five-sided building known as the Coachman's House to a fully equipped 'drama pod' which enables curriculum drama groups to work with light and sound in an exciting, galleried space.

The Sixth Form Centre itself, shaped around the former stable-yard and near-derelict stable buildings of 300 years ago, makes use of glass and wood to complement the flint and stone construction. Drawing together the Old School Library and the Losinga Modern Studies Centre, it provides a meeting and study space for sixth formers, with a coffee bar and social facilities. Other features of the design include a floating style roof to minimise the archaeological impact of the development and a modern cloister garden recalling the fourteenth century priory which previously occupied the site.

Substantial archaeological work was carried out before and during the construction, with a fine, tessellated pavement floor discovered. Two derelict 18th century curtilage listed buildings have been incorporated into the design.

The new construction contrasts the existing flint and brick with timber, zinc and aluminium framed glass. The new steel structure spans the existing buildings and is supported on piles so no significant load is taken on the existing buildings. The piles are positioned to avoid disturbance to the remains of the buildings found below the ground.

The prestigious 'Green Apple' was presented by botanist and TV personality Professor David Bellamy.

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