Gibson Thornley gets green light for sixth form centre in north London school

Gibson Thornley gets green light for sixth form centre in north London school

The practice will refurbish classrooms and build new spaces at the Ark John Keats Academy. The new elements include an entrance from an existing courtyard, with timber linings, seating and displays, a study space and staff office, as well as classrooms and seminar rooms on an upper level.

The architects have included a new set of stairs and double-height space connecting the entrance with the new classrooms, most of which are double-aspect.

Gibson Thornley said that the design team had created the building’s exposed structural frame in such a way as to minimise embodied carbon and weight.

The architects said that expressed downstand beams meant they could reduce the floor slabs to a depth of 130mm (equating to 66kgCO2/m² A1-A3). This will cut carbon emissions by 38 per cent compared with flat slab construction, they added.

The school will be ventilated by night-time purging. Gibson Thornley said that the ‘deep vertical piers and tilted spandrel panels’ of the centre’s facade will shade the glass and reduce solar gain, alongside new external awnings.

Gibson Thornley’s proposed overhaul of the Ark John Keats Academy – entrance

This is Gibson Thornley’s first secondary school project but the practice has previously designed a retrofit scheme for a nursery within a Grade II-listed manor house in Croxley Green, near Watford.

Co-founder Matt Thornley said the Enfield sixth form ‘expresses how it is made and works’ and favours ‘simplicity over complex systems’.

He added that the school and parent charity Ark ‘have high ambitions […] and, working with them, we have designed great spaces for young people to learn and socialise’.

Katie Marshall, the school’s headteacher, said the new centre had been designed to provide students with a ‘professional and nurturing environment, which is exactly what they deserve’.

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