The new Essa Academy in Bolton, Lancashire, is surely one of the most technologically advanced schools in Britain.
The £20m ultra-modern building houses Britain’s first self-sufficient carbon free classrooms, an interactive wraparound 3D Theatre and an international business centre, as well as outstanding ICT facilities. In 2009, the school hit the headlines when all 900 children and their teachers were issued with iPod Touch computers, worth £149 each.
The 8334m² Academy replaced the former Hayward school, before relocating to the current site on Lever Edge Lane. The remaining school buildings are to be demolished once the academy reaches completion in October 2011.
The scheme was procured through the Partnerships for Schools National Framework and Kier Education won the contract for the specialist state-funded independent Essa Academy after presenting an impressive set of proposals. Sheppard Robson were the architects.
The scheme has consisted of ground stabilisation works, foundations, steel frame, masonry cavity external walls, propriety flat roof and a feature ETFE roof. Internally, the walls are partition plasterboard, there is traditional flooring (carpet, vinyl and tiles) and decorative finishes and M& E systems.
Extensive external works have comprised hard and soft landscaping, a MUGAS pitch, a 3G pitch, drainage including tubersider and the remodelling of the Morris Green Lane approach road leading to the site. Blakedown Sport & Play were responsible for all of the external sports facilities.
The Academy has been built to BREEAM rating Very Good, and significant efforts were made to reduce the environmental impacts of the construction works. These efforts included: environmental monitoring of the construction activities and carbon footprint; local protection to environmental elements (comprising fencing to trees and the monitoring of water running through the culvert); the completion of pre-environmental assessment by specialist; and recycling facilities on site.
The project has also had several social benefits. Those involved with the Academy regularly liaised with the local community – including evening forum meetings and newsletters – and promoted the employment of local resources and manpower. In addition, there was interaction with the school and its pupils, including an art competition and the making of a time capsule. The project has also raised funds for improvement works for the Great Lever Golf Club.
Mayor of Bolton, Councillor John Bryne, has said of the new Essa Academy: “The building is so state-of-the-art, it can only help to be educated in such a fine modern building. I only wish I had been taught in a place like this!”