Architecturally ambitious: Kingsdown House, The King’s School, Canterbury

Faced with a complex brief on a site scrutinised by planners, conservation teams and Historic England, architectural ambition was crucial for Kingsdown House, which provides new boarding accommodation at The King’s School in Canterbury. Walters & Cohen Architects needed to carefully consider the kind of products to use on the project, which is when building materials manufacturer Wienerberger was introduced to the scheme.

The King’s School site abuts the historic City Wall in Canterbury, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is in close proximity to Canterbury Cathedral, a World Heritage Site. Therefore, any proposed new buildings are closely evaluated and must demonstrate a high degree of quality, with a correspondingly detailed specification to satisfy this requirement. Working closely with the architect was essential in completing the details required to achieve a beautiful building that enhances its location.

The project was not without its challenges: the build needed to be completed to suit the school’s academic timetable, and logistical complexities meant a tight delivery schedule needed to be devised and strictly adhered to.

Clay tiles are a prominent feature of many buildings in Kent and specifically in this part of Canterbury. Walters & Cohen drew inspiration from local architecture and construction techniques, interpreting these with contemporary detailing and working with Wienerberger to ensure the roof tiles reflected the elegance and quality of the neighbouring buildings.

Rather than using modern interlocking tiles, Wienerberger’s Alban Sussex Blend tiles were used to create the roof and walls of Kingsdown House. The versatility of the Alban Sussex Blend tile was highlighted: the tiles blend beautiful design with a stunning aesthetic result. The tiles were chosen because they enabled the architect to use a single material for the roof and walls, creating a simple, attractive façade that complements its neighbours.

The design remit for the building was to create a neat, angular and seamless quality, therefore external angle tiles were not used and all corner tiles were cut to create an elegant edge against the aluminium corner trim. Additionally, all tiles under the windows were cut by hand to assist in waterproofing the building as no lead was used. Precision cutting on the angle ensured a perfect fit.

To further assist with the detailed specification, Wienerberger’s Alban Sussex Blend bespoke Mansard and Gutter tiles were specially hand made for use at the eaves junction with the wall. The tiles to be used under the windows were again cut in detail and fixed using a dedicated Wienerberger adhesive. On the apex, rather than using the traditional Winchester cut, the architect required a neat straight line to achieve the desired composition and give a contemporary look.

Nigel Dyer MIoR, Heritage Service Manager at Wienerberger, commented: “We’re over the moon with the end result at Kingsdown House; it’s an absolutely beautiful building that truly reflects the heritage it surrounds. Through using our Alban Sussex Blend tiles, a build that complements the historic architecture of the nearby surroundings was achieved and a personality was given to the construction.”

Speaking about the project, Rob Hill, Associate Director of Walters & Cohen Architects said: “The project needed to suit the school’s academic timetable, therefore very careful project management was essential. We completed the project on time and within budget, and are delighted with how the finished building looks. The Wienerberger products we specified reflect the architectural heritage of the site, and their specialist knowledge also made them a highly suitable partner for the project.”

For more information on Wienerberger please visit