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St Mary Magdalene Academy


In Brief


Client:
London Diocesan Board for Schools and DCSF

Location:
Islington, London

Construction value: 
£28,000,000

Completion:
September 2008

St Mary Magdalene Academy is a 1,360-place all-through school, from reception to sixth form and co-located with a new Early Years Centre; providing continuity of education within one facility. Individual areas have their own sense of identity, whilst benefiting from the common culture. Walls are mainly clad with clay tiles and laminated timber-framed windows, the halls are picked out with sharply detailed hardwood cladding, adding quality and presence. Views in, out and throughout present an easily-navigated series of memorable spaces to orientate and delight users.

The Academy was designed to maximise use of a very tight urban site: the built Academy’s internal floor area is approximately the same as the overall gross site area. The new school is an example of how to optimise available space to provide high quality indoor and outdoor spaces. The school also illustrates our interest with the relationship between internal spaces – autonomy with coherence.

The project proved to be politically contentious in its early stages, due to the size and location of the site, and extensive consultations were undertaken with all parties: staff, governors, Local Authority, planners and local residents. The completed Academy now plays an important role in the community, with a range of facilities shared by pupils and public. 


Selected Awards


2009 RIBA National Award

2009 RIBA Stirling Prize: Longlist

2009 RIBA Sorrell Foundation Schools Award: Shortlist

2009 BCSE Awards - Inspiring Design

2009 AJ100 Building of the Year: Shortlist

St Mary Magdalene Academy

“The building is a triumph... an architecture of character, richness, detail and beauty, spaces... that are dignified, civic and very beautiful... ingenious use of the topography and geography of the site." Kieran Long
Architects' Journal

"St Mary Magdalene Academy is not a prototype… it is specific. It is time all schools were designed with this in mind” Kieran Long, on naming St Mary Magdalene Academy as the Best School of the Decade;
Architects’ Journal, September 2009.