John Madejski Academy

Reading, UK

The first of the DfES secondary school exemplar designs to be built, WilkinsonEyre's kit-of-parts prototype design was modified and developed to suit the specific curriculum demands of the new John Madejski Academy, which has a sports specialism. Three wedge-shaped learning clusters, linked by bridges at first floor level, sit into the corner of the site, with a careful landscape treatment helping to mitigate road noise. They contain the majority of the teaching space, with each acting as a house base for up to 300 students.

The teaching areas are configured here on a non-departmental basis – for example, there are a pair of science studios in each cluster.The fourth cluster is more open plan and contains the Learning Resource Centre and more adult activities: vocational study areas, offices for external agencies, the sixth form social area and staff development centre. The agora has a covering of ETFE and a rubber crumb floor which modifies the acoustic and reinforces the sporting theme of the Academy.

The Sports Hall has a large number of changing rooms and, along with the external pitches, is available as a regional centre for tournaments. It also contains a 10m high climbing wall. By using the exemplar prototype about a year was saved in the pre-planning feasibility stage.

The school was officially opened by former Prime Minister Tony Blair in December 2007 and has seen a marked improvement in educational standards and achievement.