Architects: Bond Bryan Architects
Bond Bryan Director: Jeff Stibbons
Project Managers: Wilmott Dixon
Services Engineers: Mott MacDonald
Civil/Structural Engineers: Dewhurst Macfarlane
Contractor: Willmott Dixon
Construction Value: £17.5 million
Completion Date: 2012
Gross Internal Floor Area: 12,000 square metres
The client played a vital role throughout the design process. The agreed spatial relationship diagram best suited a ‘hub & spoke‘ floor plan; the ‘hub’ accommodates communal facilities such as the main hall and the independent learning centre whilst the ‘spokes’ are groups of related teaching spaces or ‘learning villages’.
Within the central ‘hub’ is a three-storey atrium, a pleasant well-lit environment acting as both an orientation space and the social ‘heart’ with facilities for dining and study.
The careful design of the ‘learning villages’, each a cluster of classrooms around an open resource area, ensures spaces are well protected from solar gain and glare but have excellent day lighting. Meanwhile the Academy’s specialism, Science and Technology, has been given maximum prominence by elevating it above the other accommodation on a ‘Piano Nobile’.
The building is naturally ventilated and passively cooled using a simple but effective environmental control strategy. Sustainable principles and energy efficient design underpinned all our decisions providing a solution that is both environmentally benign and financially viable.
A Building Information Model (BIM) was created from the outset. It was an invaluable engagement tool allowing both client and stakeholders to understand the developing design by taking a ‘virtual walk’ through the model (see video right). Use of BIM enabled the design and construction teams to coordinate a relatively complex steel structure; also the engineer’s services design was assimilated into the overall model identifying and correcting clashes with the structure and avoiding problems during construction. These activities were instrumental in improving efficiency and saving both time and money.
Bedford Academy is regarded as an outstanding building serving as a beacon for education at the heart of its local community. Cllr David Sawyer, Portfolio Holder for Education at Bedford Borough Council, said “This is a hugely impressive building and it will serve young people extremely well by creating specialised learning spaces”.