The three form of entry primary school for Cambridge County Council will sit at the heart of Urban&Civic’s ambitious 162 hectare eastern expansion of St Neots.
The engineered timber school will provide an inspirational learning environment surrounded by nature, both inside and outside. At the centre of the building is a woodland grove, providing a learning resource that embodies the ethos of the academy.
The two-storey building will accommodate 708 students alongside 60 teachers and support staff. A slender, curved roof offers shade and protection to the outdoor learning spaces beneath. Wrapping the elliptical form is a façade which draws inspiration from the seasonal colours found within the surrounding landscape.
The design for the academy is based on the concept of ‘learning in the round’, a spatial framework for arranging clusters of classrooms and other support spaces. This strategy not only places similar age groups together to foster support, but also allows shared facilities to be easily accessible to each cluster. As students progress year by year, they move through clusters within the round.
Each classroom cluster is designed to be highly permeable, developed out of consideration of a typical learning day. The spatial arrangement allows formal learning to extend internally into break out spaces and externally into the wider landscape.
The use of cross-laminated timber for the building’s superstructure expresses the buildings sustainable credentials, offers a conducive environment for children and teachers alike whilst making construction easier, faster, safer and more efficient.
The distinct character of the new academy will contribute to the vibrancy of the new civic square and enliven the public space for the wider community.
Sketches and drawings © dRMM Architects