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St. Peter’s School in Blaenavon, constructed in 1816, was the first school in Wales to be purpose-built by an ironmaster to provide education for the children of his workforce.

Following Blaenavon’s designation as a World Heritage Site in 2001, the practice was commissioned to transform the abandoned school into a resource centre for the World Heritage Site. Extensive exemplary restoration work was undertaken; the split-level upper and lower schools were unified into one coherent complex without compromising their unique character.

The creative planning of the new building uses the angled elevation of the old school as a backdrop to the visitor reception.

A carefully crafted new building links the two parts of the school creating a fine new reception area to which the picturesque cross-wing elevation of the lower school provides a backdrop. The new building extends to cantilever over the boundary wall of the adjacent cemetery, allowing the new café to take advantage of the views over the historic landscape.

The centre was the only Welsh recipient of a 2008 RIBA Award and was praised by the jury for its ‘creative, pragmatic joinery details and excellent construction’ and ‘the evident close involvement of the client’.

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