03 October 2011

Evelyn Grace Academy

The Evelyn Grace Academy, is a new secondary school in Brixton, south London located at 255 Shakespeare Road. It opened in September 2008. The building was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, which was awarded the £20,000 RIBA Stirling Prize 2011 for the best new European building built or designed in the United Kingdom. From Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) announcement
A highly stylized zig-zag of steel and glass, the Evelyn Grace Academy is squeezed onto the tightest of urban sites (1.4 hectares - the average secondary school is 8/9 hectares). The architects received a complex brief: four schools under a single academy umbrella with the need to express both independence and unity. The architects were strongly encouraged by the client to 'think outside the box'. With such a small space and with sport being one of the Academy's 'special subjects' (each Academy school has one), the architects needed to be highly inventive. They succeeded, for instance by cleverly inserting a 100m running track into the heart of the site taking pupils right up to the front door. By dramatically celebrating the school's specialism, the RIBA Stirling Prize judges noted 'this is a design that literally makes kids run to get into school in the morning'.

The Evelyn Grace Academy is the first school to win the RIBA Stirling Prize, with seven schools shortlisted in previous years. It is the first time that Zaha Hadid Architects have designed a school and their first large-scale project in the UK. Previously they designed a Maggie's Centre in Scotland and more recently they have completed the Riverside Museum in Glasgow and the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics.
Read more.

Design as described by the architect
Following the principle of ‘schools within schools’, the design generates natural patterns of division within highly functional spaces which give each of the four smaller schools a distinct identity, both internally and externally.
Photo by Luke Hayes (via Zaha Hadid Architects website)

Video by RIBA

See reporting by BBC News.

It is an inspiring building, which hopefully will in turn inspire students in what is considered to be a disadvantaged socio-economic area.

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