Zaha Hadid Architects’ first completed project in England, the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton, south London for ARK Schools presents itself as an open, transparent and welcoming addition to the community’s local urban regeneration process. ARK Schools was founded in 2004 to work with the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and local authorities to create new schools offering exceptional opportunities to local children in inner cities through their academies programme, with the aim of helping to close the achievement gap between children from disadvantaged and more affluent backgrounds.
Designed for 1200 pupils, the Evelyn Grace Academy maintains the educational principle of smaller ‘schools-within-schools’; with Evelyn and Grace Middle Schools each housing 270 pupils and Evelyn and Grace Upper Schools housing 330 pupils per school. Each of these four smaller schools are contained within highly functional spaces that give a distinct identity both internally and externally. These spaces present generous environments with maximum levels of natural light, ventilation and understated but durable textures. The collective spaces – shared by all schools – are planned to encourage social communication within each school and eliminate problematic zones that require supervision.
Description by Zaha Hadid Architects