Mossbourne Community Academy
Mossbourne Community Academy replaces the former Hackney Downs School and will accommodate 1,000 pupils aged 11-16, with a special focus on teaching information and communication technology, as well as offering learning facilities to the wider community. Located in one of England's most deprived boroughs, the school is a powerful engine of regeneration in its own right.
A Government initiative, Academies like Mossbourne are a new type of publicly-funded secondary school providing free education for pupils of all abilities. The £25 million project was funded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Hackney- born businessman Sir Clive Bourne, who has contributed over £2 million. As innovative in its education methods as its design, the Mossbourne Academy provides a blueprint for the future of education in the UK.
The triangular site is subject to high levels of noise from the railway tracks that enclose it on two sides, while on the third it looks out to Hackney Downs park. In response, the three-storey building - one of the largest timber frame buildings in the UK - is conceived as a broad 'V', its back to the railway, its focus the park to the north. The various faculties/bases for year groups are housed in sections of the building configured as terraced houses, with access from a covered cloister. Each house consists of a ground floor of common space, designated staff areas, with a top-lit IT resource space and two levels of more traditional classrooms.
Mossbourne Community Academy opened to 220 year 7 pupils in September 2004, and was officially opened by the Prime Minister Tony Blair on the 3rd of March 2005. In 2011 86% of Year 11 students received 5 A-C grades. Lord Adonis said of the school “Hackney parents used to fight to get out of Hackney schools, now they fight to get into them”
The triangular site for the Academy, previously the location of the derelict Hackney Downs School, is dominated on two sides by railway tracks and as a result is subject to a high degree of noise and vibrations. On the third side, to the north, the site looks out over Hackney Downs, one of the few green spaces in the borough.
The simplicity of the diagram represents an instantly legible response to the site conditions. A broad 'V' in plan, with its armour-like wall protecting the building from the noise of the railway lines is contrasted with the light-weight timber and glazed teaching spaces looking out over the courtyard and Hackney Downs beyond.
The school is designed to facilitate different modes of use and to cater for the needs of school children and adult members of the community. The programme includes very few specialist teaching spaces, so that the majority of the programme, including generic classrooms can be adapted or modified as required.
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