Northampton International Academy
Northamptonshire County Council
Number of school places: 2,220
Size (m2): 22,250
Awards and shortlist:
RIBA East Midlands Award Winner
BD Education Architect of the Year
ED Refurbishment Architect of the Year
EG Awards – Creative Spaces
AJ Retrofit Awards – School
AJ Architecture Awards - School
Building Awards - Refurbishment
Through the creative adaptation of an abandoned Royal Mail sorting office, Northampton International Academy has brought life back into the site and local community. This hub of learning, employment and community activity has been created through a process of positive place-making, sparking the wider regeneration of the area.
Responding to the significant requirement for school places in Northampton, we identified the neglected building, that had blighted the area for over a decade, as offering an ideal opportunity for the development of an inspiring education facility.
With a floor area of 22,250m2 and generous floor-to-floor heights, the academy, one of the largest free school projects to date, accommodates over 2,220 pupils alongside other community and leisure offerings, such as external play and social space and a generous public plaza.
The main mass of the existing building remains largely unchanged except for the sports hall that has been inserted into the former rooftop courtyard. The existing concrete waffle-slab structure remains exposed providing an underlying grid to the space. Vast voids were formed through the existing concrete waffle slab in order to bring daylight deep into the interior and provide open vertical circulation and visual links between floors. These openings were created along the main circulation routes that run on an east-west axis through the building and branch out into teaching and social spaces. New windows in the façades create naturally bright and well-ventilated classrooms. Offering both facilities and design far beyond a typical new build school, the thoughtful refurbishment of this once forgotten place also allows for out-of-hours community facilities.
We believe in the power of design to challenge conventions and create learning spaces that excite the next generation. When approached from the right perspective, NIA demonstrates how even the most challenging buildings can regenerate areas and increase local prosperity.