St Albans Academy

Alex, Michael, Ryoko and Daniel braved a snowy journey for the official opening of St Albans Academy in Highgate, central Birmingham.

Lord Adonis and The Rt Reverend David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, officially opened the new £17.6 million building (18 January). They were joined by Principal David Gould, the teachers, staff and student choir of St Alban’s, as well as Prof. Peter Marsh, Chair of the St Alban’s Governors, and Lucy Heller, Chief Executive ofARK Schools.

Initiated within the Birmingham BSF programme, and complicated by its eventual cancellation, the challenging budget led to a highly rational, yet inspiring design. The Academy includes two autonomous vertical small schools and a new 6th Form, which bridge across a covered Link space to specialist facilities, including sport, art, music, multi-faith prayer space, and the schools specialism, design technology and engineering. Physical and visual connections create a cruciform in plan, connecting through to St. Alban’s the Martyr, a Grade II* listed church by John Pearson (1881), and to the city centre. The facade reinforces the entrances and axes, while picking up on the colours of the fine brickwork to the Church. The compact footprint also allowed the retention of mature trees on the site, and maximised green space for both students and community. The project was delivered ahead of time and to budget by Lend Lease.

Image © Edward Shaw