A beacon of opportunity

Friday 04 Mar 2011

Aedas completes new academy in Darwen, Lancashire

The Darwen Aldridge Community Academy [DACA] is all about regeneration in its vision, location, design and use. Located in the heart of Darwen at the head of the main high street Darwen Aldridge Community Academy stands as a beacon of opportunity and hope, demonstrating what is possible when a vision for regeneration by a local authority is matched by a vision for education in an academy sponsor.

Conceived as a simple triangular volume the buildingworks with the steeply sloping 21m gradient of the site to open up access to the town on five levels providing stunning views and forming a central visual and physical connection with the town centre through innovative use of levels, materials and site topography. The building boasts one of the largest sedum roofs in the UK and roof fenestration aspects have been integrated as an innovative design feature allowing light to pour through into the atrium spaces.Opened in September 2010 the building has achieved its BREEAM ‘Very Good' target.

Unique to DACA, and in support of its specialism, is the provision of an ‘entrepreneurship bridge' containing business incubator units available to anyone in the local community interested in starting their own business.  This close contact between the business start-up community and the Academy is central to the vision of regeneration and a valuable curriculum resource, as it allow students to learn from shared experience. Brendan Loughran, Principal of DACA, said of the project: "The building is iconic and the strongest symbol of regeneration of Darwen. The impact on improving students' attitude and motivation has been incredible.  We have an environment which marries the worlds of business and education." Rod Aldridge, Chairman of The Aldridge Foundation, added: "The joy and excitement about school life in the building is tangible and it is an uplifting place to visit and feel part of."

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