New updates on the Royal Mail sorting office regeneration project have been released by London-based Design Studio Architecture Initiative. In 2015, the Studio issued a transformation plan for the abandoned Royal Mail sorting office in Northampton, England, to be made into a mixed-use building which includes an International “state of the art” school, Northampton International Academy. The school will be receiving 420 primary school students, 1500 secondary school students, and 300 sixth form students, studying for advanced level qualifications, and it is scheduled to open in September 2017.
According to Architecture Initiative, the building’s already existing concrete structure “provided an ideal framework for conversion to an educational facility.” The building’s 6m-high ceiling made it possible to install mezzanine levels for perimeter classrooms. The circulation inside the building is designed to be street-like with natural light coming from the multi-storey atriums, which shall encourage interaction between school students. The designers are using glazed partitions, on a large scale, for classrooms, to let in the natural light and enhance the learning environment. The school shall, also, include a 400-seat theater, four-court roof top Sports Hall, and specialist workshop and design classrooms available for community use after school hours. That is in addition to a new large terrace on the back side of the building which provides a space for open learning activities and links the inside of the building to the new outdoor play area. The newly landscaped public plaza by the school entrance will be a host for social interaction between students, teaching staff, and the community.
However, this development project will not be restricted to the educational functions. It will also provide commercial and community services with the aim of animating the street frontage and economically regenerating the area. These services will include cafes, offices, a private nursery, and a gym. The interior of the building will be designed in a flexible manner that allows for future modifications so that the building will always be useable. According to Lord Nash, a partner in this project along with the Education Funding Agency and Architecture Initiative, “The adaptive and regenerative re-use of the derelict Royal Mail sorting office ingeniously provides a modern educational establishment that has a significantly reduced carbon footprint and less embodied energy than a new build equivalent.”
Architects: Architecture Initiative
Location: Royal Mail, 55 Barrack Rd, Northampton NN1 1AA, United Kingdom
Design Team: Rowan Parnell, James Pooley
Client: EFA / Northamptonshire County Council
Project Management: Northamptonshire County Council
Project Year: 2016
Photographs: Courtesy of Architecture Initiative