Sponsored by charity Absolute Return for Kids (ARK), Walworth Academy occupies the playground site of the old Walworth School, which was split between two sites. The new building unites the Academy into one facility on Shorncliffe Road and has almost doubled the capacity, catering for 1,140 students. We provided structural, civil and building services engineering, and sustainability consultancy for the low-energy building. The school remained operational during construction.
One of the aims of the project was to achieve exemplar low energy building status. The Academy was designed with energy efficiency in mind, as well as ensuring a comfortable working environment. Passive design measures have been used where possible.
Post-tensioned concrete construction has been used in order to take advantage of the exposed thermal mass warming coupled with night time cooling this technique makes possible. Natural daylight is maximised in the spaces with measures taken to limit direct solar gain. The building also contains a biomass boiler to complement the low energy sustainable design and to reduce carbon emissions in line with local planning policies.
An assisted naturally ventilated system — openable windows with mechanical extraction — operates in the teaching spaces. To improve control of CO2 levels and comfort in some areas, mechanical ventilation and additional cooling are provided, but only where all other options were found to be insufficient. Walworth Academy was one of the first schools in the UK to be awarded the Department for Children, Schools & Family’s additional funding for proposals achieving a 60% reduction in carbon emissions.
Many of the Academy’s facilities — in particular the auditorium and multi-use games area — are available for community use after school and at weekends.