The Brief

The Henrietta Barnett School is an independent grammar school for girls located in the Hampstead Garden Suburb Conservation Area of North London. The library is situated in the main building of the school, a Grade II* listed, early 20th Century building designed in the Queen Anne style by Sir Edward Lutyens, and is of heritage significance for its’ historic, architectural and social value.

Barker Associates LLP were appointed to manage the refurbishment project, including the remodelling of the internal areas of the existing library. Alterations were designed to be sympathetic to and compliment the character of the building and the refurbishment, carried out by construction specialist T&B (Contractors) Ltd, needed to reflect the high standards and quality of teaching and academic achievement at the school.

For the library at Henrietta Barnett School, a high quality of furniture was expected, with real wood finishes, glass dividing walls and improved lighting. It needed to be an all-encompassing, fully-integrated facility for the modern age, featuring a mix of furniture types to suit both formal and informal study, individual and small group study, whilst still retaining a strong sense of the school, with its’ history, traditional features and core values remaining intact.

The Solution

The key to the project was to match the ambition of the refurbishment and historical importance of the school with its educational imperatives, whilst offering high-quality products and excellent value for money. Because of this, a highly bespoke solution was required. The FG Library design team of Julian Glover and Jonathan Hawkins worked closely with Architect Richard Paynter and a team from the school (including Head Del Cooke and Estates Manager Richard Cain) to determine how the desired look could be achieved at a realistic cost. Discussions focussed on the evaluation of a range of materials, finishes and fabrics, the end objective being the provision of the highest quality products and levels of finish within the available budget.

We supplied and installed bespoke shelving in real wood Oak veneers and high quality Graphite MFC, bespoke furniture including a counter with solid wood lipping and an inlaid Marmoleum top with the school’s logo to the front. They also created matching rectangular, round and elliptical study tables (some with integral power points), Oak veneer storage units with bespoke surround for the electrical distribution point, study and operator chairs with an embroidered school logo. All this was further divided using benching for study and IT purposes with tops also in Oak veneer.

The end result is a stunning blend of contemporary and traditional sensibilities that perfectly reflects the objectives set out at the beginning of the project: a library with all the features required to deliver a modern service, yet always respectful of the historical context, architectural features, educational ethos and traditions of the school.

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