Langley Academy by Foster + Partners
Langley Academy replaces an ordinary secondary school which occupied the same site: due to poor results that school was closed, and in its place the decision was taken to build an educational institution of a new type, in terms of both teaching method and architectural design features.
It is the first school in Great Britain to follow a «museum» theme, where a considerable portion of the educational process is based on the pupils interacting with various artefacts, an 18th century oar, for example, or an antique bicycle. The school houses a collection of 500 exhibits, to be replaced regularly with new items taken from the collections of the country’s most notable museums. And the building itself, or rather its green features, occupies an important place in this exhibition. Its design is exceptionally resource-efficient: based on preliminary calculations, in comparison with a typical school of comparable size, Langley Academy will save 20% in water consumption and release into the atmosphere 130–150 tonnes less CO2 per year (its figures are 9.8 kg CO2 per m2 annually).
The operational processes can be viewed by the pupils: water and electricity consumption meters are clearly visible through the glass wall of the «engine room» from the atrium. The interior contains exposed pipework, and explanatory placards are provided so that the children can understand how the school building «works». This approach will help the children to appreciate importance of eco-architecture in the context of global warming and the depletion of the planet’s resources. It will also become a shining example in the sphere of the sciences, which is Langley Academy’s area of specialisation. The classroom knowledge will be supplemented: pupils will study a range projects based on information relating to the operation of the building.
Detail of the eastern façade © nigel young / foster + partners
Exhibition of antique and state-of-the-art bicycles in the atrium © nigel young / foster + partners
Students looking at the monitors of the school’s plant room © nigel young / foster + partners
Main image: © nigel young / foster + partners