Client: Willmott Dixon

Bedford Academy
Bedford

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

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Completed in September 2013, Bedford Academy is a specialist Science and Technology School for 1440 pupils

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”.

"We worked closeley with Bond Bryan to develop designs for a building that reflected the educational vision we have for Bedford Academy.  The team at Bond Bryan was professional, friendly, flexible and showed great creativity and imagination.  We very quickly became confident in their ability to design a building  that would prove to be an inspirational place for our students and staff.  Bond Bryan guided us efficiently through the stages of exploring concepts and then developing designs through from early stage outline to final planning permission submissions.  I would have no hesitation in calling upon them again and in recommending their services to others"

- Claire Smith - Principal - Bedford Academy 

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