This City Academy is the first of 200 the government wants to build in deprived inner city areas. However, it’s unlikely that the others will be designed by Richard Rogers and boast a really pukka kitchen garden

A touch of class
A touch of class

With its external fire escapes and exposed structure, Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney, London, has many of the Richard Rogers’ trademarks. The school, which welcomed its first pupils this term, is the first that the Richard Rogers Partnership has designed.

The £25m City Academy is the blueprint for the future of state schools. A mixture of public and private support has funded its construction. Clive Bourne, a Hackney-born businessman, contributed more than £2m, with the remainder coming from the Department for Education and Skills. The government plans to build more than 200 such academies in deprived inner city areas by the end of 2010.

The 8312 m2 school is one of the largest timber-framed buildings in the UK. It has been constructed in a wide V-shape. Its windowless walls back onto two noisy railway lines, while its glass-fronted teaching spaces overlook the playground and the vista to the Hackney Downs.

The teaching spaces are housed in sections configured, according to the architect, as “terraced houses” with access from a broad covered cloister. Each house has a ground floor of common space, designated staff areas, a top-lit IT space and two levels of traditional classrooms. From his glass-fronted office the school’s head, Sir Michael Wilshaw, can keep a watchful eye over the school’s 900 pupils aged 11 to 16 as they move around the school and its grounds.

The building’s pedigree, however, extends beyond its architect: chef Jamie Oliver has designed the kitchen garden, and its pupils will enjoy meals planned with advice from the River Café restaurant.