E-ACT and Birmingham City Council
Nicholas Hare Architects are designing North Birmingham Academy; a Performance Arts specialism academy accommodating 1150 students including a 250 place sixth form. The building is arranged over three floors with four wings in an H-plan configuration allowing wing access to and from a triple-height central atrium. The atrium will be a multi-use space at the heart of the school with a central feature open staircase. All of the academy's performance-oriented spaces are arranged together between the upper and lower ground floors, maximizing opportunities for collaboration and interchange of subject areas. Their direct relationship with the atrium creates a number of performance opportunities. Two of the learning wings, comprising the large spaces of sports, main halls, studios and music form a long bar to the rear of the school loosely following the north-eastern site boundary.
The two wings to the front of the school include a general teaching cluster and the Vocation/ technology and Arts wing. They are inflected on plan to create a welcoming frontage that identifies the main entrance and visually holds the landscape in front of the building. The sloping site has been utilised, enabling the ground floor to step down around the main atrium following the site contours and creating 'super-storey' floor-and-a-half heights to the main hall and studio spaces. The atrium opens onto a south facing courtyard with cover for external dining. This courtyard is triangular in shape, opening to enjoy the southerly aspect towards the forest and Witton lakes in the distance.