Creating space for students to study

Bute House Preparatory School for Girls | Mackensie-Wheeler Architects & Designers

The brief

Like many schools, Bute House needed to expand which led to Galower creating space for students to study - amazing study pods. They explored different options, including extending underground. Ultimately, however, they chose to make use of the space available in their atrium. The architect came up with a design that maximised the whole area, including the height, thereby creating an amazing teaching and learning environment.

Galower was chosen as the construction partner for two important reasons:

  • Our experience of working on complex school projects;
  • A reputation for thorough planning and superb workmanship on numerous high-end residential projects.

This was a very ambitious build, both in terms of the design and the project management necessary to deliver our client's vision exactly as they planned. We really enjoyed the challenge.

Complex and focused project management

Throughout the project, we acted as the linchpin between all parties: working closely with the architect and structural engineer, and keeping the school bursar and their project manager in the loop at all times. Our frequent detailed briefings meant the bursar was prepped and ready to submit full reports to the board of trustees on a regular basis.

The build process was complex and very focused, requiring interim stages to enable us to accommodate the school timetable. An enormous amount of skill went into calculating a constant flow of activity; at any one time, the whole team of 50+ specialist trades people was working on different parts of the project simultaneously. This included mobilising a variety of specialist contractors ranging from controlled demolition contractors through to joiners and decorators.

As with all our projects, keeping within budget and to a tight timescale were high priorities. Our Health & Safety policy, always an important and consistent part of our working lives, encompassed an even wider scope on this project, accommodating the needs of both students and teaching staff.

Study pods with wow factor

Having input in the design process, meant we could ensure buildability without compromising the architect's vision.

For example, through experienced problem-solving and continuous quality control, we designed a way of ensuring the 'floating' timber structures were suspended safely, using exactly the right structural elements.

The project featured various robust wooden structures, pleasing to both look and touch - book cases, shelving and intriguing study 'pods'. All carpentry was done on site to ensure a perfect fit. Every structure was covered in fire retardant veneer and decorated to a very high standard.


"Galower faced stiff competition at the tender stage but we hired them because we believed they could deliver on a number of fronts. We were right, and rewarded with an amazing piece of work. Most importantly, they understood what we were trying to achieve, replicating our design to the very highest standard.

"Understandably, we had our eye on the budget and were working to an incredibly tight timescale. However, Galower's approach and meticulous time management meant we achieved our vision one week ahead of planned handover."

Bursar's verdict