The Thomas Deacon Academy is the largest of the practice’s new schools. The result of a close collaboration between Foster + Partners, the Academy’s Sponsors and Peterborough Local Education Authority, the fulfilment of the academy’s needs has been integral to the design concept. Thomas Deacon has a unique university system, where lessons are complimented by lectures, seminars and tutorials. Maths and science are the particular specialisms.
The building comprises two ribbons of classrooms that enclose a central concourse sheltered beneath a dramatic, light transmitting roof. This central space is the academic and social heart of the school and accommodates a lecture theatre at ground level and a library above. The curves of the perimeter classrooms create six distinct three-storey colleges, each containing teaching areas and communal spaces. This arrangement breaks down the scale of the building, both physically and socially, and by increasing the external edge it also maximises the potential to draw natural light and ventilation inside.
This design creates a dynamic between the more public, social areas of the school that relate to the central concourse, and the quieter spaces that look out to the playing fields and the leafy surroundings. Each college has a glazed show-case classroom which acts as its shop window. The social hub is its ‘Network Study Area’ which provides dedicated space for social interaction and collective or flexible study. The main entrance, located at the westerly end of the building, sits between the sweep of two curves, welcoming students inside. A crescent-shaped reception desk creates a circular waiting area at the foot of a curved staircase which rises to balconies and the library overlooking the concourse.
Description by architects