The City Academy, Hackney

The City Academy, sponsored by the City of London and KPMG opened for the first 210 of
its eventual 1140 pupils in September 2009. A striking inspirational educational
facility, employing a thoroughly integrated sustainable environmental strategy, has been
delivered on time and to budget by a fully partnered team led by the City of London
Surveyors, Studio E Architects and Willmott Dixon Contractors. The challenges of a tight
programme and complex, split site have been successfully met, whilst implementing an
exemplar programme of ‘young client’ engagement with the participation of the Sorrell
Foundation. The pupils claim ‘The Best School Ever’.
A colourful glassy school ribbon, woven through clusters of mature existing trees, faces
the sensitive Clapton Square Conservation Area and grade II listed Sutton House across
Homerton High Street. As with all our projects, a strong sustainable approach has driven
a concept that has reconciled aspirations, site issues and environmental performance.
This includes passive environmental measures that rely on high standards of daylight and
natural ventilation. A glass secondary façade assists with dealing with noise generated
by heavy traffic along the street frontage. A strong sustainable strategy has delivered a
BREEAM rating just short of excellent.


Key points

• A symbol of aspiration and transformation for the area. A closed school site transformed into a new vibrant educational and community asset.

• Quality of envelope and massing. A colourful and glassy building ribbon makes a statement in this important part of Hackney.

• Successful integration with a sensitive site context. A design concept that has embraced educational campus, conservation area and public realm as one interdependent whole.

• A flexible, inspirational and inclusive learning environment. Clustered, transparent learning spaces organised around curriculum areas. Clear circulation via day lit concourses making way-finding straight forward and a pleasurable experience.

• Exemplar engagement with young people. Young client group informed project brief and were engaged throughout design and construction process.

• Exemplar use of daylight and natural ventilation. Four linear light wells bring daylight to the heart of the building. Natural ventilation to all primary spaces. Energy saving and great feel good factor.

• BREEAM just short of excellent. Just short of excellent. Exemplar passive measures in terms of daylight and natural ventilation. Ground source heat pumps and photovoltaic arrays for low carbon energy generation.

• Integrated aesthetic, functional and environmental design. Excellent space standards, high standard of finish and fit out, exemplar daylight and natural ventilation and all too budget.

• Building transparency. Integration of inside and outside space and extensive internal glazed visual links between teaching and circulation areas. Excellent vision lines aid supervision.

• Imaginative use of colour. External colour to give building a vibrant identity and to reduce scale to a two storied ribbon. Internal colour for way finding, level identity and to reinforce the visual experience of moving through a series of interconnecting linear spaces.

• Creative value engineering. Completed on time, to budget and to desired quality standards.

• Delivered through collaborative partnered team working. Relocated sites midway through process and still completed on time and to budget

Key Facts

Construction Duration: Start 9 January 2008 - Completion 3 August 2009.

Construction Cost:  £30.0m (Including fit out and ICT)


Building Activity

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