Folkestone Academy

Folkestone Academy specialises in the Creative Arts and European Languages and Culture, providing a range of curriculum, teaching and learning facilities for a total of 1480 pupils aged 11-18. The Academy has played an important role in the regeneration of Folkestone by offering a range of learning and community services to people of all ages.  The school’s educational vision is based on a pastoral system – or House system - that offers personal support and encouragement within smaller mixed-age groups.

The design concept therefore provides eight House spaces, each contained within a 14m diameter circular enclosure. Two groups of four Houses are arranged between linear teaching areas, interspersed by two triple height communal courtyards, with a café and an ICT study area to the rear. The entire building sits beneath a dramatic steel roof comprising a patchwork of solid triangular inserts slotted into a diagonal lattice, punctured with circular teflon-coated glass fibre light wells that allow natural light to filter down into the interior. The roof extends over the public entrance to the building at the North Eastern corner, creating a striking angular canopy. Students enter from the South from one of two openings to the internal courtyards which lead directly into the Houses. The courtyards can be used as informal gathering areas and are complimented by an external play area on the south façade. Within the Houses, there are intimate spaces for registration, pastoral support groups, dining, coat cupboards and break-out zones, overlooked by raised staff areas and seminar spaces, with language teaching rooms on the upper level. Clad in timber which is punctuated with glass strips, the Houses offer a degree of privacy while still allowing in natural light.  Specialist classrooms for art dominate the north and south perimeters on the ground floor, while more traditional academic teaching facilities are located on the upper floors. 

Flexibility has been key to the strategy for the perimeter classrooms, which serve a number of different 
educational requirements and class sizes. All classrooms have full height glass panels adjacent to the doors to create a sense of display. Oriented to minimise unwanted heat gain and solar glare, much of the building, including the perimeter classrooms, is naturally ventilated. A circular performance auditorium and sports hall are located on the western and eastern ends of the building respectively, with a raised library area above the sports hall changing rooms, overlooking the atrium. Each can be accessed independently of the school itself, to enable the facilities to be used by the community outside of school hours.  
Description by architects


16 photos and 4 drawings

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