29 July 2005
Pupils at Djanogly City Academy, Nottingham, enjoyed their first term in the new Foster and Partners-designed building. Part of the current Academies Programme that seeks to improve educational standards, Djanoglys elegant new centre on Gregory Boulevard is a prominent symbol of excellence in education that is at the heart of the local community. Specialising in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), the school provides accommodation for three Year Groups of 270 students each, and also facilitates after-school use to promote lifelong learning. The Academy replaces the Djanogly City Technology College and the former Forest School. Based on two sites, the new building houses the 11-14 Centre.
Conceptually, transparency and legibility are the key drivers, and the form is a simple steel frame that extends along the length of the glazed rectangular building. Internal walls are non-load bearing to provide complete flexibility to suit evolving teaching requirements. With students using ICT in every lesson, and personal computers allocated to 80% of classes, this is a school for the 21st Century and beyond.
Situated on the edge of the Forest Recreation Ground, Djanogly City Academy gracefully rises out of the landscape. Optimising the advantages of its green setting, a wide external terrace runs the length of the faade along Gregory Boulevard, with access for cars and parking on the east side. The transparency of the south elevation offers inspiring views of the playing fields, and brise soleil provides solar shading.
The simple linear form is arranged along an internal street, punctuated at either end by double height spaces containing art, dining areas and an entrance hall with library and cyber caf. The building is organised around the Entrance Hall, with teaching areas to the west and communal facilities to the east. This is key to facilitating out-of-hours use, enabling the east side to operate in isolation of the teaching zones. The clarity of this plan is enhanced by the transparency and sense of direction, further provided by Sophie Smallhorns installation of brightly coloured panels, which continue along the length of the internal street on each structural bay. To the rear of the site, the former Forest School was removed and the landscape was levelled to create a wide open area containing sports facilities, a football pitch and hard play area, on the same level as the building.
Specialist teaching rooms are on the ground floor, where the greater depth of the plan creates larger classroom areas, and access for the delivery of materials is more convenient. The three home bases are located on the first floor, and are designed as self contained units with distinct resource areas, stairs, staff facilities, toilets and seven individual classrooms linked by glazed balconies and naturally lit by rooflights. Within each home base, two pairs of classrooms are divided by moveable partitions, to facilitate double class teaching. Doors to all classrooms are glazed, enhancing the sense of transparency, and the first floor classrooms have fine views, particularly to the south, across the recreation ground.
The north of the building is naturally ventilated via cross ventilation achieved by high level vents to the faade and to the internal street. The roof lights to the street complete the air circulation route. Night time cooling relies on the same system, which is both economical and environmentally sustainable. To the south, the faade is sealed against the traffic noise along Gregory Boulevard and the rooms are mechanically ventilated. Due to the heat gain resulting from one to one computer usage, the upper level classrooms are cooled by chilled beams.