ARK Schools was established in 2004 to help break the cycle of underachievement at schools in some of the UK's most challenging urban areas by developing high achieving new academies. Evelyn Grace in Brixton is a new build academy that was designed by signature architect Zaha Hadid. It was developed to a new model that effectively divided the building into four to provide two middle and two upper schools, each for 300 pupils.
Mace was awarded the project following negotiations with the DCSF (now DfE) and ARK Schools when the design was already at an advanced stage. In order to deliver within the £36m budget, the team had to undertake an extensive value engineering programme that achieved significant savings, and implement the necessary design changes without compromising the approved planning consent. With the programme extended to enable Mace to take over project delivery, the scope was altered to include construction of a temporary school building for 200 pupils. Situated within the footprint of the site, the temporary school was open and operational for the last 11 months of the programme, requiring the project team to reduce the impact of building works and minimise disruption to the pupils and staff. The academy opened to 540 pupils in September 2010.