The main objective of the client's brief was to provide a radically transformed education experience for the young people of South Maidstone through the provision of entirely new facilities as a catalyst for a new style of teaching and learning. The new Academy was to be a means of enabling an innovative and highly personalised curriculum within a radically redesigned learning environment, which the school had been prototyping in an old assembly hall for some years previously.
The principal component of the design brief was to create Learning Plazas. Unlike traditional classrooms these spaces provide learning environments for up to 120 students at a time, which when paired together would create ‘home bases' for a whole year group (7 classes). The curriculum is design so that pupils spend some 70% of their time in these Learning Plazas for non-practical teaching or learning, and the brief therefore required the Learning Plazas to be large flexible spaces that could support innovative approaches to teaching and learning within a single open plan space.
The brief also required that the aesthetic and feel of the Academy should not look or feel institutional, nor like a traditional school, but instead reflect the specialisms of Business and Enterprise and Vocational Studies. Specialist spaces were to be visible from either inside or out and the use of cutting edge technology was to be used throughout the entire Academy.