The Skinners’ Kent Academy was the sample project, one of a batch of six Kent Academies procured through the PfS National Academies Framework. The batch was won through a competition process with Studio E Architects working for the design and build contractor, Willmott Dixon.
The new Academy, sponsored by the Skinners’ Company, was required to replace outdated existing school facilities. The site, bordering on a Conservation Area and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, was blessed with wonderful woodland set into a rolling landscape. The sponsor was looking for a facility that would evoke “a pride in the school’s success” and would support the school’s educational house based organization and celebrate its specialism of science and engineering.
Studio E Architect’s design response was inspired by the transformational education vision and the spectacular quality of the site. The design concept fused building and landscape into one seamless learning experience with the engineered building form showcasing the school’s specialism and the internal radial planning reflecting the educational organizational cornerstones – focus on the specialism, blurred boundaries between faculties and a four house structure.
Inspirational visual references – the Guggenheim spiral, the diffusion of light, the Greek amphitheatre, the Golden Mean, the mechanisms of a clock communicated ideas and became integral to the building design. At the same time the academy dipped heavily into Studio E Architect’s established design vocabulary – the joy of daylight, open plan transparency and cohesion, the joy and inspiration of a layered building journey that binds internal and external spaces into one.
The most enjoyable part of this journey for me was the design journey with you – of that I am absolutely clear. Now we are in, all the discussions and debate become reality. Thank you so much for such an inspiring design. It is special indeed. Sian Carr, Principal, Skinners’ Kent Academy