The Bulwell Academy
Tel: 0115 964 7640
The Bulwell Academy is the result of several years planning to bring together the former Henry Mellish and River Leen Secondary Schools into a new Academy sponsored by Edge. The academy building, is located on the upper part of the former River Leen school site with the lower site being used for games courts/pitches and car parking. The site operations were completed by Spring 2011.
The Academy caters for up to 900 students aged 11 to 16 and has a post 16 sixth form
Bulwell Academy is situated in the north of Nottingham, north west of Bulwell town centre. Bulwell is an area of high deprivation and shows particularly poor educational results. The Council approved the creation of a new academy to give a major boost to education in the area.
The Edge sponsor's aim is to change the educational ethos of secondary education by incorporating vocational skills training in the Academy's specialism 'Business and enterprise'. The Academy's design improved radically the educational provision for the students. The area is one of the lowest in the country for students going onto tertiary education. Bulwell Academy addresses this by being one of the few schools that has a 6th form.
Secondary schools generally have a poor relationship with their neighbours. From the outset of the project, the NCC BSF team worked with the Principal and consultant architects to ensure that the Academy was not behind a perimeter fence that would visually exclude the community from the activities of the Academy. A bold 'enterprise hub' is located in prominent position with the main entrance easily accessed from Squires Avenue and Hucknall Road approaches.
The design also breaks new ground in the organisational approach. The Academy features 5 two storey 'houses' that provide general teaching classrooms on the first floor. Students can work in their classrooms or be assigned to work in smaller teams using the breakout spaces adjacent the 'house' entrance area. The ground floor features the specialist teaching accommodation of Science, IT, Design Technology and Performing Arts. Each 'house' (which can be for a specific year group or for a 'house' system', giving pupils their own 'entrance' to their 'house', reducing congestion throughout the Academy buildings. Shared accommodation e.g. catering, dining, sports and the Enterprise Hub are all located towards the 'front' of the building so that these areas can also be easily used by the community. The sports suite includes a large 4 court sports hall, activity area and fitness suite.
The relationship of the building to its external spaces is also critical on large schools. In the centre of the Academy building is a covered court, which features one of the largest fabric roofs in the country. This provides sheltered social and recreational play for students and answers the need for sheltered circulation routes. The support structure to this canopy is clearly seen when approached from Hucknall Road. From inside, the Academy's main Hall is located within this court and provides a visual 'anchor' that is clearly seen from the main entrance foyer of the Academy.
The construction is steel framed with facing brickwork to main elevations facing the local housing, but providing rendered elevations where longer views are seen from Hucknall Road. The Enterprise Hub feature glass facades which express the openness of the Academy's aim to be part of the community.
While being a very small site when compared with other schools, the site has been able to achieve considerable variety of team games areas for all-weather pitches/courts and also grass team games. The all-weather games areas are to be constructed in 'terraces' descending towards the Hucknall Road. These are overlooked by a viewing terrace adjacent to the main entrance.
Sustainability and concern for the built environment was a strong design aim.
The perimeter of the site features 'living hedges' that front pavements. These are thick hedges that grow in front of the normal security fencing that support wild-life and also give a softer image to security.
The Bulwell Academy has one of the largest sedum 'green' roofs in the City. This is an attraction to bird and insect life. It also provides improved sound insulation and reduces rainwater run off into mains drainage. Some roofs feature grey-water recycling for toilet use, to reduce water usage in the Academy. The green roofs are low pitch but can be clearly seen by the community and students. The roofs can therefore be used as a school learning resource.
A prominent feature on the roofs seen from Hucknall Road and Squires Avenue are the ventilation 'turrets', that provide natural ventilation to the classroom spaces to reduce the need for mechanical ventilation, hence are energy reducing. Improved external wall and roof thermal insulation has also been achieved. As a result 'sustainability' has been incorporated into the school curriculum.