Emerson College, Forest Row
Emerson College was founded in the 1960’s as a progressive college of further education based on the work of the Austrian philosopher, scientist and social visionary Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925). Since then it has played a key role in the cultural and economic life of Forest Row and the surrounding area. At its zenith the student body numbered over 200 from all over the world studying a whole range of full time courses including; Waldorf (Steiner) teacher training, sculpture and the visual arts, biodynamic agriculture and horticulture, speech and writing, eurythmy (a form of curative movement).
The increasing bureaucratisation of education, training programmes, qualification criteria and associated costs to students meant that Emerson saw a slow decline in numbers from the 1990’s onwards. Courses are now part time or in short intense blocks, designed for people already in work, looking for a career change, or able to fund a period of personal development. The cumulative effect has been a marked reduction in student numbers and consequent dramatic reduction in the need for on-site residential student accommodation.
Westwood was a residential building, which comprised 24 single student bedrooms, a common room and shared laundry, organised over three floors and a split section to accommodate the steeply sloping site. Not only was it surplus to requirements, but was the easiest to convert into flats. The conversion produced four 2 bedroom flats and two 1 bedroom flats. The common room and laundry were kept and upgraded and external balconies added to each unit. This scheme is the first phase in a master plan to create a living and learning community.
Design Team: Nic Pople, Serena Evans, Muneeb Ali Khan, Sophie Woodhatch
Structural Engineers: Corbett & Tasker
M&E Engineers: Hydrock
Planning Consultant: Kemble Loudon Williams
Contractor: Valley Builders