WORK has started on a new £4.3 million arts block at Shiplake College.
The three-storey complex will house the independent school’s music and art departments when it is finished in September next year.
It will also have a resource centre with books, computers and a digital archive of newspapers as well as a basement lecture theatre.
The building will have a footprint of about 1,362 square metres and will be named after former pupil John Turner, who left in 1965 and was a governor for more than 30 years.
Headmaster Gregg Davies has wanted to build an arts block since he arrived at the school in 2004.
He said: “The new development means that the music and art departments will not only be built for purpose but will now match the high standard that our pupils possess.” The centre will stand on the site of the old art block, which has been demolished.
The art department will be based in portable cabins while the work is carried out.
The music department will be on the ground floor with seven rehearsal rooms, two classrooms and a recording studio.
The first floor will be a learning development centre where pupils can brush up on studying, researching and essay writing.
The top floor will house the art department. There will be space for life drawing and portraiture as well as sculpture and pottery.
The lecture theatre will have 140 seats and will also be used for music recitals and parents’ conferences.
Wireless internet access will be available throughout the building and pupils will learn using tablet devices and
The plans were drawn up 14 months ago and the project was granted planning permission shortly afterwards.
The foundations were laid over the summer holidays.
Construction was due to begin last term but there were fears it might disrupt pupils sitting their GCSEs and
Mr Davies said: “The pupils are very excited — it is always exciting when you put up a new building, especially as this will be for all of them to use.”
The building was designed by Nichols Brown Webber, of Northend.