As part of the government’s academy schools program, Folkestone Academy is an academic focus on European Culture, Media, and the Arts. This school provides learning and community facilities to people of all ages. Completed by Foster+Partners in 2007, the three-storey building offers complete facilities that unified beneath a dramatic steel roof canopy.
Due to the Folkestone’s dwindling popularity as a seaside resort and the port closure, the coastal town on the project site has been in decline since the 1960s. This school was one of a number of arts-led initiatives for the town’s regeneration and a part of the government’s academy schools program. It was founded with the support of a private donor. This school is also inspired by Folkestone’s burgeoning creative community and cross-channel links. It has 1,480 pupils aged between 11 and 18, divided into eight ‘houses’.
On the project plan, the three-storey building of this school comes in a simple rectangle form with an external play area and two entrances. There is also a sports hall, library, and a circular performance auditorium. These school spaces are unified beneath a dramatic steel roof canopy that made of solid triangular inserts, slotted into a diagonal lattice, and punctured by light wells.
The building roof over the building’s northeastern corner to shade the glazed entrance while the angular form is echoed inside smoothly in a zigzag arrangement of elevated walkways. These walkways run between the perimeter classrooms’ strands to define a smaller study area and also two full-height trapezoidal atria.
There are eight timber-clad, circular drums inside the atria and each of them has a three-storey house space. Intimate spaces for registration, break-out zones, coat cupboards, dining, and pastoral support groups can be found within these houses with language teaching rooms on the upper levels.
The north and south perimeters on the ground floor are dominated by specialist classrooms for art while more traditional academic teaching facilities are located on the quieter, upper levels. All classrooms are designed with full-height glass panels adjacent to the doors, creating a sense of display. Much of the building is naturally ventilated to minimize unwanted heat gain and solar glare and shaded by horizontal brise soleil.
Folkestone Academy Gallery