Established in 1920, Swanbourne House is an independent, co-educational preparatory boarding and day school for children aged three to thirteen years of age, located on a site of 55 acres in Buckinghamshire.
Witley Jones have worked with Swanbourne House over a number of years on a variety of projects. In 2013 Witley Jones won a contract to provide bespoke pews as part of the first of a number of refurbishment projects planned at the school. The working relationship continued to grow since with the installation of storage furniture and lockers as well as boarding bedroom furniture in the main school building.
Following open tender, Witley Jones were contacted by the school to provide a wide range of furniture to support the refurbishment of the Fremantle Building, Science and Technology, and the Walker Building, Languages and Computing. Two complete bespoke science laboratories, an art room, a DT room and two computing suites were delivered in addition to a significant amount of loose furniture over the summer 2017.
Throughout these projects a close and productive relationship was established with the Business Manager, Paul Jochimsen, the architects and the main contractor to design furniture to the client’s requirement to create a safe and innovative learning environment.
At the outset, the client was keen to see other classrooms and to be able to talk to colleagues in other schools about design and function for the furniture. Witley Jones arranged for the Headmaster and Business Manager to visit Prior’s Field School who had recently completed a science lab project in their Arnold Building.
At each stage of the design process the Business Manager sought teacher input to mature the final requirement. This required proactive and agile delivery by the Witley Jones design team who supported the client closely at every step along the design journey. As a consequence each room was tailored to meet the needs of the teachers to enable them to deliver coherent teaching and learning.
The design of the science labs was based on the client’s review of many other schools to mature the requirement and to ask for a lab that had two separate functions in the single room – a theory space and a practical space that was also seamlessly linked to the preparation room.
Witley Jones, for the practical science benches, supplied all taps, sinks, gas taps and electrical pedestal boxes, working alongside the M+E contractors for their integration in the furniture.
For the theory part of the classroom close liaison was maintained with the school’s in-house IT department to ensure all of the IT equipment that was to be fitted was considered during the design and build stage – an example is the mounting of an 80kg CleaverTouch smart TV within he teaching walls being supplied, not only to allow sufficient cabling but also to ensure the structure was robust enough to take the weight.
In order to ensure this furniture was as hard wearing as possible it was specified that the doors of the furniture supplied to be upgraded to Laminate faced MDF rather than the Melamine Faced MDF used for the carcases. We were able to source a laminate to match the melamine used for the carcases. The science bench worktops were specified for Trespa which was recommended by Witley Jones.
Paul Jochimsen, Business Manager at Swanbourne House commented on the personal and close interaction with Matt Jones:
“His knowledge and leadership of the design team have been key to us over the past 8 months for our latest build projects and without which we would not have achieved such a satisfactory result. Also and as part of our due diligence prior to letting the contract it was very pleasing to note other customers comments about Witley Jones and the warmth with which they spoke about the Company. This was a key ingredient in deciding to place the contract with Whitley Jones.
The work last summer has taken the school forward significantly and we are very proud of the new facilities which place us at the cutting edge in education. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Witley Jones as the refurbishment programme continues. As a result I am more than happy to strongly recommend Witley Jones to others. ”