As the first ‘One Planet Living’ council – a framework adopted by Sutton in 2009 to encourage sustainable development – it was important that the building had exceptional green performance. Architype was appointed in 2016, having been selected from Sutton’s consultant framework, after successfully completing designs on the nearby Hackbridge Primary School, a ‘Passivhaus Plus’ zero carbon school. LBS made Passivhaus compliance a key requirement for Harris Academy. “The vision is that the school becomes an integrated component of the LCH campus,” explains Christian Dimbleby, associate at the firm and lead architect on the project. Significant potential was seen in “a science academy that develops local talent and maximises its close association with the wider campus,” says the architect. Harris Academy Sutton not only provides the first building blocks of the lives of many young Londoners set to walk its corridors, but also of the LCH masterplan.

Form & function

In creating a substantial new building in a quiet suburban borough of London, the architects sought to ensure that the surrounding properties were considered throughout the project. Initial designs positioned the mass of the building along the south-west perimeter of the site in a single curved block reaching five storeys in


parts, however after public consultation, the architects were forced to rethink the school’s plan.

The resulting design is made up of one central four-storey block with a series of alternating wings which step down to two and three storeys, ameliorating the passage of light to neighbouring properties. The site also had several important large specimen trees that the rethought design accommodates more successfully. As well as the reduction in the scale of various elevations, the building also maximises usable outdoor space for terraced seating and social courtyards. Care was taken in minimising the surface area of the building to achieve high levels of solar gain, while the north-south orientated design facilitates Passivhaus by further optimising gains in winter to minimise heating demand. In section, the building adapts to the 6 metre north-to-south slope of the site – noted by Christian Dimbleby as one of the key challenges of the plot – with its ground floor built into the relief. “The layout is cruciform,” explains Dimbleby, “with a central spine encouraging the flow of users around the building; the students navigating primarily east-west from the school entrance into the secure playgrounds.” Communal access runs from north to south with the main entrance at the north for visitors, and the south side looking out to


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