Realising an innovative school building, designed by acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid
This visually stunning specialist sports academy provides a supportive and stimulating educational space for 1,200 pupils and the wider community. We made the design a reality.
Evelyn Grace Project summary
Department for Children, Schools and Families (Now the Department for Education), Ark Academy
Bamber and Reddan, Zaha Hadid, Capita Symonds, Davis Langdon
UK and Europe, UK - London and south-east England
- Start date
- April 2008
- End date
- September 2010
With our meticulous focus and attention to detail, the project was completed within 80 weeks, enabling the school to be ready for the start of the new school term.
Praised for its imaginative design - its fits snugly into an extremely tight site - the Academy won the Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize in 2011 - a result of the strong and cohesive partnership that was developed between us, the client and the architect’s team.
We brought value to the project by providing crucial 'buildability' and engineering advice to make the inspiring, striking design a reality. Our expertise meant we were able to bring the project within budget, without design changes compromising the approved planning consent.
Points of note
Bringing the project back into lineWe were appointed to the project after the previous contractor pulled out. The first challenge we met was to bring the project into line with its proposed budget, saving £3m through a value engineering programme.
Stakeholder engagementWe kept stakeholders up to date as the Academy took shape. Our team held weekly informal ‘keep in touch’ meetings with our client, and the academy's staff and students were invited to attend presentations and site tours during the build.
Full visibility for the architectsMock-ups were an invaluable tool, proving the feasibility of the design of features such as curtain walling, opening lights and curved feature banding. They enabled us to prove what was possible before production went ahead and allowed the architects full visibility from the outset.
Delivering sustainabilitySustainability was at the project's heart. Systems and materials, including biomass boilers, photo-voltaic cells, sustainable cladding and natural ventilation, all helped to minimise the carbon footprint and increase environmental friendliness.
Overcoming construction headachesStriking design features can often mean construction headaches. In this case, the use of visual concrete that provides ‘free cooling’ during the summer was an obstacle we had to overcome. We did so by constructing and testing sample panels to ensure we could deliver a high-quality finish that was true to the design.
Local employmentOur community regeneration programme helped to break down barriers to employment through providing advice, guidance, mentoring, educational training and job opportunities for local people.
Architecture for everyone
“It is very significant that our first project in London is the Evelyn Grace. Schools are among the first examples of architecture that everyone experiences and have a profound impact on all children as they grow up. I am delighted that the Evelyn Grace Academy has been so well received.”
“A fantastic result for Evelyn Grace – we are delighted to have been involved in such an exceptional project which has clearly made a significant impact on the students, staff and local residents.”