City Academy wins top design award

The City of London Academy has won the Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award for 2006, piping a the post other top designs including Sir Norman Foster’s National Assembly for Wales Building.

The comprehensive school in Bermondsey, designed by architects Studio E, beat off strong competition from 13 other shortlisted schemes to clinch the prestigious prize.

Unlike the Stirling prize, it recognises excellence in both the design quality and procurement practice of publicly funded building schemes.

John Sorrell, chair of CABE, said:” It is interesting that academies appear to enjoy considerably better design than other schools. The key difference appears to be not just cost but the extra time for design and consultation in the early stages of the project.'

Opened by the Prime Minister in September 2005, the City of London Academy has proved hugely popular, with 1,370 pupils applying for 180 places last year.

The architects have designed the school to have a light and airy atrium at its heart, providing daylight and natural ventilation.

This also acts as a dramatic entrance and social hub for the school. The project is intended to be a catalyst for local regeneration as well as a centre of learning excellence, and it includes facilities for community use.

The academy is sponsored by the City of London Corporation. It is so pleased at the outcome that it has agreed to co-sponsor two more academies, in Hackney and Islington, and will use the same broad principles to procure and build them.

The win comes after a Commission for Architecture audit in July assessed the design quality of school buildings completed over the last five years. This found that design quality, although improving, is not good enough to achieve the government’s ambition to transform children’s education.

The academies included in the audit were considerably better than other schools - all were ranked partially good, good or excellent.

Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, said:” This year’s nominees show the benefits that excellence in design and procurement can bring to local communities and the environment. They set high standards for public building projects both now and in the future. As Government Design Champion I am delighted that the excellent City of London Academy has won the 2006 award.

“This exciting project demonstrates how high quality design and decisive project management can create learning environments which respond to the needs of students, teachers and the wider community.”

Martyn Coles, academy principal, explained the partnering process used to procure the new school: “Collaboration and team work are key elements which make partnering different from the traditional client/designer/contractor relationship.

“Ideas are shared and problems discussed freely at meetings. Partnering meant that we were able to closely monitor both cost and quality and the Academy was closely involved in all decision making. The building finished both on time and budget.”


3rd November 2006

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