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2. Full citation follows:
Architect: Building Design Partnership
Client: The Marlowe Academy; Roger de Haan
Structural Engineer: Building Design Partnership
Project Mgr/QS: Davis Langdon Project Management
Contract Value: £21,500,000
Date of completion: Sep 2006
Gross internal area: 10,000 sq m
This is a new City Academy which replaces the existing failing Ramsgate School. It will serve as a catalyst for wider community regeneration as it combines a new learning hub with branch library, adult education facilities, sports hall and performance spaces. Currently accommodating 675 pupils, though designed for an eventual complement of 1100, the school community includes a high proportion of students with special educational needs.
The design on a level, open site arranges the teaching accommodation in three curved wings, corresponding to faculty organisation – arts, science and humanities – and uses these to encircle a huge curving arena, within or adjacent to which are disposed the key communal spaces, auditorium, library, and gymnasium, expressed as distinct entities yet with their own material expression. Other shared functions such as IT pods and the cafeteria are introduced as discrete sculptural forms or occur within the spaces created by the main building enclosure.
The effect of this strategy has been to create the feeling of a sort of indoor 'village', where the resident community can see itself in action and witness the diversity of its achievements. The vast toplit arena with its timber gridshell roof is a grand, almost operatic, space which by virtue of the two-way stage arrangement and the upper galleries serving tiers of classrooms enables the whole school to participate in assemblies or large performance activities. The traditional corridor, with its associated problems of congestion and inefficiency, has been replaced by a series of lively spaces with real social and educational potential.
To his considerable credit the new principal (appointed after the design had been settled) has re-orientated the school's operational policies to suit the new building as built – "no lining up, no bells" - and has inculcated a new ethos of aspiration and achievement, where pupils want to learn and staff want to teach. At a time when massive resources are being directed towards the rebuilding of Britain's educational infrastructure, Marlowe Academy offers an ambitious re-definition of what a large new school can look and feel like.
The Sorrell Foundation was set up to inspire creativity in young people and to improve the quality of life through good design. The RIBA Sorrell Foundation Schools Award is the UK's first prize for excellence in school architecture, set up to further raise the standard of design in all new primary and secondary school buildings.
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