The Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton, London Borough of Lambeth, broadens not only the educational diversity of this active and historical part of London but also augments the built environment in a predominantly residential area. This Academy presents itself as an open, transparent and welcoming addition to the community’s local urban regeneration process.
The strategic location of the site within two main residential arteries naturally lends the built form to be coherent in formation. The building assumes a strong urban character and identity which is legible to both the local and neighbouring zones.It offers a learning environment that is spatially reassuring thereby being able to engage the students actively. The design of the building, proffers that, which contemporary architecture can, to create a healthy atmosphere as a milieu for progressive teaching routines.
In keeping with the educational ideology of ‘schools-within-schools’ the design is to creates natural segregation patterns nested within highly functional spaces which give each of the four smaller schools a distinct identity, both internally and externally. These spaces present generous environs with maximum levels of natural light, ventilation and understated but durable textures.
The collective spaces – shared by all the schools – are planned to encourage social communication within a distinct hierarchy of natural aggregation nodes which weave together the extensive accommodation schedule. Similarly, the external shared spaces, in order to generate a setting that encourages interaction, are treated in a manner of layering creating informal social and teaching spaces at various levels based on the convergence of multiple functions.
“…Stanford’s Library Map of London dated 1862, shows development to have extended across the site by this time. Loughborough Park Road (now Loughborough Park) and Sussex Road have been laid out adjacent to the western boundary of the site with residential plots fronting these roads containing detached dwellings. Within the site, the plots extend in long gardens behind the houses to a south to north running ‘watercourse’ located in the middle of the present day site.Market gardens then fields are shown east of this watercourse. The London Chatham and Dover railway is shown cutting through the market gardens.
The first available map from the Ordnance Survey for this area is from 1874. A more detailed map was produced in 1875. This 1875 map shows no change within the site or to the residential development along Loughborough Park (road). The plots of these houses extend east to where the market gardens have been replaced by a large railway area later called the Herne Hill Sorting Sidings. The railway sidings are extensive and there are five through railway lines shown on the map. Shakespeare Road, from which the site is now accessed, is not shown on the map.
The Ordnance Survey map from 1896 shows Shakespeare Road laid out for the first time. Terraced houses with small properties are shown within the site along the eastern boundary, fronting Shakespeare Road. The terrace houses and their plots run between the boundary originally created by the watercourse and Shakespeare Road…”
- extract from geotechnical desk study 2005, pg 4
The first Post World War II map is the Ordnance Survey map from 1951. This map also shows the damaged houses in the north-western and north and south-eastern corners of the site have been replaced by prefabricated temporary housing. This map details a foundry adjacent to the northern boundary of the site with an adjoining yard extending within the site. Although this is the first map to label this plot as a foundry, the similarity of previous maps suggest the foundry to be present from a much earlier time, possibly early twentieth century.
The location of the old watercourse is still evident from the curved boundaries between the properties along the eastern side of the site and those on the western side.
An aerial photograph and an Ordnance Survey map, both from 1960, show very little change to the site.
The 1974 map shows the site as a depot called the ‘Borough Council Depot’. The site includes a small part of the P.O. Telephone Depot which is immediately south of the site (see Figure 3.15). In the central northern part of the site a weigh bridge annotated as “WB” is shown which can also be seen in the previous 1969 aerial photograph. It is believed that the two decommissioned in-ground fuel tanks mentioned during the recent site visit are located adjacent to this weigh bridge.
The site and surrounding area is shown largely unchanged from 1992 until 2005 with the exception of the demolition of the central shed and weigh bridge between 1999 and 2002 where the refuse trucks are shown parked in the later aerial phot graph. This 2002 aerial photograph also shows the current operational use of the site…”
- extract from geotechnical desk study 2005, pg 4/5
“…During the Second World War, the site and the surrounding area was bombed.
The London Council war damage map (based on the 1916 Ordnance Survey map), Figure 3.10 and the aerial photographs from 1941 and 1946 (Figure 3.9 and Figure 3.11), shows areas that suffered damage from aerial bombing between 1939 and 1945. The map shows that all of the houses existing on site at that time suffered some damage. Most of the structures along the western edge of the site suffered blast damage only, except in the north western corner where four houses were either destroyed or badly damaged.
On the eastern boundary, all of the houses existing at that time were seriously damaged and four were totally destroyed, probably by the V1 flying bomb impact that is illustrated on the map. The V1 flying bomb struck approximately where the car park is in the south eastern corner of the site. Bombing of the site may have left craters which, when filled in will have created varying thicknesses of made ground across the site…”
- extract from geotechnical desk study 2005, pg 5
“…All of the residential houses fronting the eastern side of Loughborough Park are Grade II listed structures. The closest of these to the site is 67 – 73 Loughborough Park adjacent to the north west corner of the site. The details of the grade listing are below.
IoE Number: 204472
Location: 67 – 73 Loughborough Park SW9, Brixton, Lambeth, Greater London
Date Listed: 27 March 1981
These are mid 19th century semi-detached houses each with two storeys and a basement level.No listed buildings in the vicinity of the site other than those along Loughborough Park were found during this desk study…”
- extract from geotechnical desk study 2005, pg 6
Design and build
The academy occupies a 1.4 hectare site in the London Borough of Lambeth and accommodates 1,200 pupils. Grouped at ground level, the school’s specialist sports facilities, including a fitness suite, dance studio and sports hall, have been made accessible to the local community out of hours.
The Executive Architects and Concept Guardians is the renowned Architect practise of Zaha Hadid and features a number of challenging aspects from a buildability view point.
In conjunction with ARUP (Structural & Engineering Services Design) and Bamber and Reddan (Detailed Architects), Mace Plus undertook the role of design and build contractor on this £36.5m project.
The cladding is a key feature which required Mace Plus and its cladding contractor McMullens Architectural Systems from Northern Ireland to rise to the challenge and overcome some major hurdles such as projected levels of deflection and finite tolerances.
The concrete structure relies heavily on the use of visual concrete which also provides ‘free cooling’ during the peak summer months by use of its thermal mass.
Obtaining the required level of concrete finish was a major challenge which Mace Plus and their specialist frame contractor, Atlantic Contracts, took on board from the outset by constructing various samples panels and undertaking ‘first run studies’ to address buildability and final appearance.
Regular dialogue with the Evelyn Grace Academy clients, the DCF and ARK, was maintained by hosting regular informal weekly KIT (Keep In Touch) meetings in conjunction with formal monthly reporting and project review meetings. Staff and students involved with this academy were invited to attend presentations and site tours during the build, while parents and the local community were given an insight in the school design, progress and upcoming works via newsletters and specially constructed viewing facilities at the site perimeter.
Middle Schools. The middle schools pupils enter directly into each of the two schools from their respective 1st floor terraces. There is no requirement for the middle school pupils to use any of the main stairs (except in an escape condition) thus avoiding interaction with the other schools. Each middle school is spread over 2 floors connected internally by a single central stair. The 2nd floor shared facilities are accessed from the upper level of the middle schools. The ground floor shared facilities are accessed through the external landscape.
Upper Schools. The two uppers schools are accessed separately via the end stair cores to the third floor level. Upper School 2 is accessed from its own 1st floor terrace. Upper School 1 is accessed from the southwest corner of the site at ground level. Glazing into the stairs has been maximised for surveillance. The 2nd floor shared facilities can be accessed via the central stair core. The ground floor facilities can be accessed via the most expedient of the three cores. For flexibility of access options, the central core could be used as access for some of the upper school students via the main reception subject to management preference.
Visitors and staff. Visitors will enter at the main reception and can access any of the schools from the central core. Staff can choose how they wish to enter subject to management preference.
Schools within schools
The 1200 pupils KS3 (11) – 16+(18) are divided into separate schools as follows:
Evelyn Middle – 270 pupils (11-14 age range)
Grace Middle – 270 pupils (11-14 age range)
Evelyn Upper – 330 pupils (14-18 age range)
Grace Upper – 330 pupils (14-18 age range)
The academy is effectively split between the ground floor podium of shared facilities with the separate schools above. The schools are organised horizontally to minimise vertical circulation once the students are within their individual schools. The middle schools are spread over the 1st and 2nd floors with the uppers schools both occupying the 3rd floor.
Shared facilities that are suited to community out of hours use are located at ground level with some academic shared facilities such as the common halls and science labs located between the schools in the central area on the 2nd & 3rd floor to allow for the flexibility of them to be used either solely by a small school or as shared facilites by more than 1 school, when required.
Location: Brixton, London, UK
Date: 2006 – 2010
Program: Secondary school for 1200 pupils
Building area: 10,745 sqm
Client: School trust – ARK Education
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects
Design: Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher
Project Director: Lars Teichmann
Project Architect: Matthew Hardcastle
Project Team: Lars Teichmann, Matthew Hardcastle, Bidisha Sinha, Henning Hansen, Lisamarie Villegas Ambia, Judith Wahle, Enrico Kleinke, Christine Chow, Guy Taylor, Patrick Bedarf, Sang Hilliges, Hoda Nobakhti
Project Manager: Capita Symonds
Quantity Surveyors: Davis Langdon
Landscape: Gross Max
Acoustic Consultant: Sandy Brown Associates
Main Contractor (Design & Build): Mace Plus
Main Contractor’s Architects: Bamber & Reddan
CDM Co-ord: Arup
FF&E: Favourite Cat
Planning consultants: DTZ
Employer’s Agent: EC Harris
Catering Consultant: Winton Nightingale