Foster + Partners latest Academy, the Langley Academy in Slough, has started on site. The new Academy, sponsored by the Arbib Foundation seeks to rethink the school experience for its 1150 students. The building is revolutionary in the way that it is informed by its specialist subjects science, museums, cricket, rowing and sustainability, creating a school that is a physical expression of these educational themes.
Designed to be a model of sustainable architecture, the fabric of the building itself forms part of the learning experience. It is designed as an active tool to educate children about the environment in which they live and to raise awareness of environmental issues such as global warming. Within the building the plant room, ducts and pipes are exposed, so that students can see how energy is used. Built largely from sustainable materials such as wood, the academy has been designed with a view to improving its energy performance as it matures and it has the infrastructure in place to add further energy-saving measures.
A large open flexible space forms the entrance to the Academy and the main student hub. This space connects all the different disciplines and aspects of school-life with views that link it to the laboratories, the domestic science lab and to the restaurant and the playing fields beyond. All the achievements of the school are integrated, creating a collective sense of pride. The flexible classrooms arranged around the open internal spaces and are configured to suit a variety of teaching methods. The Academy has also been arranged to allow out-of-hours use by the wider community, so that it not only provides an important new amenity, but promotes the principles of sustainability and environmental responsibility that lie at is core.