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    Could this be one of the UK’s most architecturally dynamic schools?

    After two years in temporary accommodation, Northampton International Academy opened the doors to its new permanent home in September. Whilst elements of the scheme are still to be completed it’s amazing to see the children soaking up the vast space, surrounded by the exposed concrete features that hark back to its former life as a Royal Mail sorting office. The successful repurposing of this incredible brutalist building, that was previously an eyesore in the local community, we hope has set a benchmark for future mixed-use developments centred around education.

    The building on Barrack Road, which had been largely vacant following a fire in 2003, lies on the edge of the town centre in an area that was in need of more school places. The completed scheme provides state-of-the-art facilities for 1,500 secondary school pupils, 300 sixth form students and 420 primary school children, while being designed in such a way to also provide opportunities for future commercial and community facilities such as, cafés, office space, a private nursery or a gym.

    NIA exemplifies the power of design to create learning spaces that will inspire the next generation. Projects such as this academy demonstrate how the industry can regenerate entire areas and increase local prosperity through a considered, commercial approach.

    At a lunchtime seminar in December, James Wheeler of Northampton County Council told a story about a handful of children he’d met during the summer who were peering through the wire fencing surrounding our Northampton International Academy scheme. They were boasting to their friends that this was the school they were joining in September and captivated by the construction work that was underway. It’s moments like those that make us really appreciate the fruits of our labour and remind us that being an architect delivers more than just beautiful buildings and a solid economy for brown shoes and folding Brompton bikes. We are agents of change and we continue to own this responsibility across all of our schemes.

    The completed scheme will officially launch in 2019 – watch this space!