Mossbourne Community Academy

Mossbourne Community Academy - design

The teaching spaces in the Academy look out over a playground that is visually linked to the park beyond. The faculties and year group bases are housed in adjacent sections of the building, using the conceptual model of the ‘terraced house’. These are accessed from a broad covered cloister, or ‘street’ at ground level. Each faculty consists of a ground floor of common space, designated staff areas, with IT resources and two additional levels of more traditional classroom spaces above.

Voids are introduced immediately inside the protective wall to introduce daylight to the rear of the classrooms and enhance cross ventilation. Less frequently occupied areas such as the auditorium, performing arts centre, sports hall and dining hall, are located at intervals inside the protective wall and between the voids, further enhancing the buffer that this outer layer provides to the teaching spaces.

Adaptability is a key aspect of the design and facilitates the customisation of the school to suit future needs. This is achieved by creating a limited number of bespoke spaces to ensure that the general teaching accommodation is adaptable to a variety of uses. The building envelope responds to the external site and climatic conditions, which are fixed. However internally, the design provides maximum flexibility. For example, the partition walls perpendicular to the external walls are assumed to be relatively temporary and can therefore be reconfigured quickly and easily without disrupting the school.

The external space at the heart of the school takes full account not only of recreation needs, but also the logistics of arrival and departure, parking and security, and creates a sense of place and security for the students, staff and visitors. A hard surface playground with two tennis and basketball courts is located next to Downs Park Road which can be used by the community as well as the students.

The Academy is fully accessible to members of the community with facilities distributed throughout the scheme to erode boundaries between academic and creative or aspirational aspects of learning. A new courtyard links the school to the existing green space of Hackney Downs to create a seamless outdoor play, sport and recreation space.

The main sustainable component of the building is the timber frame – a highly sustainable and renewable resource in comparison to steel or concrete. Passive environmental systems include a series of top-lit voids inside the protective wall that bring diffused natural light down into the teaching spaces. The facade includes openable vents that act as a one-sided natural ventilation system during the day, and at night, a two-sided system operates via the voids to cool the building overnight. In addition, towers located above the vertical circulation zones extract unwanted hot air.

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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