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Gateway Academy - Case Study

October 16, 2017

Stunningly different and ground-breakingly contemporary, the appearance of the Gateway Academy in Thurrock truly defies convention and challenges the traditional design of educational establishments everywhere. The Academy is a unique £24-million development arranged in the shape of a doughnut and viewed as a massive G-shaped structure from above. The design was the brainchild of Lyster, Grillet and Harding Architects, a medium-sized practice that specialises in innovative and contemporary design for the education sector, with 95% of the work undertaken concentrated on this market.

The design pushes the boundaries of academic representation, and the design team faced many challenges. The new super academy is the merger of two separate schools, one in Grays and one in Tilbury, both of which were performing under capacity. The architects were approached in 2002 by Thurrock Council to undertake a feasibility study for a new secondary school which would eventually house 1,800 students. The gauntlet was accepted by the architects whose creativity was only limited by the boundaries of their imagination.

The result: A design evolved from the experiences and vision of Adrian Warne, partner at LGH, who combined his interest in the environment with his skill in spatial design to develop a blueprint for the new school that would fit in with the tringent requirements of the local environment and the needs of the local communities. The unification of the structure had to reflect functionality, practicality and contextual impression – both externally and internally – as Adrian explains: “The arrangement of the principle blocks are closely-linked and enclose a large attractive landscaped court.

The school is very high-profile and highlyvisible in a flat marshland site, and we had to deal with this content in the design and appearance of where it sits between the communities it serves. We have provided a building that significantly improves the education provision for pupils, teachers and the local community. The central courtyard...

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