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Restoration of iconic building to enhance on-site student experience

Marlborough College, Wiltshire
Marlborough College hero

The new Marlborough College gym is the result of the sympathetic restoration and conversion of a listed former Gaol building and gymnasium into a contemporary, state-of-the-art facility that offers more than just a space to exercise.


Marlborough College


Marlborough, Wiltshire

Service Lines

At the heart of Marlborough College’s established estate in Wiltshire, and within the Marlborough Conservation Area, this project involved the remodelling and refurbishment of an existing Grade II listed sports hall that was formerly the Town Gaol.

Converted from a Gaol to a gymnasium in 1908, use of the building gradually declined until it fell into a state of disrepair. The brief was to provide a state-of-the art fitness facility with a new gym, spin and dance studios, high specification exercise studios, and a contemporary juice bar café.

We applied intricate structural techniques to retain the building’s original character within a state-of-the-art renovation.

The challenges were extensive. The existing facility forms part of a closely sited group of historic Grade II and Grade II* Listed buildings nestled among several other un-listed but historically significant structures. While the external envelope was wind and weathertight, the internal layout and facilities became extremely dated and no longer fit for purpose, leaving the College to question its future.

A detailed feasibility analysis was undertaken to establish how such a sensitive renovation could be undertaken. Comprehensive information outlining all the intrusive structural work on the historic fabric was compiled into a Structural Statement in support of the Listed Building Consent Application. The design team worked carefully with the Conservation Officer to ensure that the proposals were not only sympathetic to the building but highlighted and enhanced the existing features. Alterations were designed with the tenets of reversibility and minimal intrusion carefully considered. Listed Building Consent was obtained and the specification of works tendered to contractors with a specialism and track record in historic building works.

Significant consideration was given not only to the preservation but the celebration of the building’s existing features. Where the new structure interfaced with the existing structure, designs were detailed to be non-intrusive, reversible and flexible.

Traditional materials such as lime mortar and plaster were used to repair the building fabric. The existing slender metal windows were carefully refurbished and made fully operational to work in conjunction with the proposed new ventilation strategy. The lighting enhances historical features such as the barrelled ceilings, cornices, columns and exposed brickwork. The mezzanine floor reveals previously unappreciated views of the surrounding historic roofscape, including the beautiful tower of the nearby St Mary's church.

The result is an iconic, beautiful building, secured for future generations and enjoying significantly increased user numbers. Staff celebrate the opportunities now on offer to the building’s users, from rehabilitation and coaching at a professional level to aspiring athletes, to the provision of a calming and reflective space much needed as students in their formative years take on the pressures and challenges of studying.

“The new fitness centre at Marlborough has revolutionised our staff and pupils’ experience of improving fitness. This beautiful building supports the concept of ‘holistic well-being’, whether it be for relaxation yoga or dance in the ‘Human Movement Studio’, an exhilarating cycle in the watt-bike room, or working through a targeted athletic development session in the main gym. The calibre of building has attracted high quality staff who really can make the most out of the impressive set up and excellent physical infrastructure.” - Director of Sport, Katy Hudson.

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