Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

Bridge Academy, London, UK-England

Exemplary design categories: energy efficiency, flexible learning settings, music and theatre facilities, sporting facilities

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
This innovative vertical academy is a compact school shaped around a three-storey central space. It builds on the idea of a school without corridors. The open-plan structure is designed to provide passive security, maximising social interaction and minimising poor behaviour. Conceived as a multi-level learning environment, the tiered main school building terraces down to the canal, providing magnificent roof spaces for performance, learning and play. The school is organised into three elements: the sound shell, the music box and the sports hall. These three elements are unified in a multi-level landscape. There is a mixture of social and play space above and between the elements. The sound shell wraps teaching spaces around the social heart of the school. Designed using the integrated technology of building information modelling to co-ordinate architectural, structural and engineering services, there is a clear floor plate structure: floors and walls can be removed and altered, providing flexibility of use. The music box, planted to form a living wall, sits by the edge of the canal. It is a theatre for music, dance and drama, which seats an audience of 450. The sports hall has been sunk into the site to minimise its height and allow views from street level into the hall. The building has been designed to minimise energy use by maximising daylight to the teaching spaces and down into the lower ground floor. The use of ETFE ensures that the building is well lit, with solar shading protecting classrooms from solar gain. Louis Poulsen luminaires designed in conjunction with BDP’s lighting designers are used throughout the building. They are daylight linked and respond to the external lighting conditions, making them very efficient and cost effective. The school is naturally ventilated, utilising the seven-storey space on the canal side of the building to produce a stack effect in the building’s central space.

Activity Areas: teaching shell with music roof, learning resource centre, central hall, teaching terraces, canal walk

Project costs: GBP 33,000,000.00

Source: "Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011"

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User perspectives (1)

"Visitors to the building are invariably struck by the flair and ingenuity of the design. It is not only utilitarian; the design is inspirational and has given the students in this very deprived area of East London an uplifting background for their school lives."
Richard Hardie, chair UBS Ltd and non-executive director The Learning Trust

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Drawings (4)

concept section (Registration required)
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cross section (Registration required)
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furniture plan 1st floor (Registration required)
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site plan (Registration required)
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