Specialist secondary school designed by Foster and Partners for 1500 pupils tops out this week

Foster and Partner’s Folkestone Academy was ‘topped out’ yesterday. The school, which will specialise in the creative arts and European languages, will provide facilities for a 1480 pupils aged 11-18.

Two groups of four “houses” are arranged between linear teaching areas, interspersed by two triple height communal courtyards, with a cafe and an ICT study area to the rear.

The entire building sits beneath a steel roof comprising a patchwork of solid triangular inserts slotted into a diagonal lattice, punctured with circular teflon-coated glass fibre light wells that allow natural light to filter down into the interior.

The courtyards can be used as informal gathering areas and are complimented by an external play area on the south façade. Within the Houses, there are intimate spaces for registration, pastoral support groups, dining, coat cupboards and break-out zones, overlooked by raised staff areas and seminar spaces, with language teaching rooms on the upper level.

All classrooms have full height glass panels adjacent to the doors to create a sense of display. Oriented to minimise unwanted heat gain and solar glare, much of the building, including the perimeter classrooms, is naturally ventilated.

A circular performance auditorium and sports hall are located on the western and eastern ends of the building respectively, with a raised library area above the sports hall changing rooms, overlooking the atrium.