Norfolk academy to create open-air classrooms as part of sustainable design

Outdoor classrooms to allow students to learn about their environment first-hand are part of a sustainable design for a new £21m academy in Norfolk.

The Open Academy in Heartsease is to specialise in environment and engineering, and the building features rainwater harvesting, a timber frame, movement-sensitive light and water-saving controls. For every three trees used in the complex, to be built by Kier, four are to be planted in the school grounds.

Landscape architecture firm EDCO Design was appointed for external spaces, with Vicky Hill leading the project, while design firm Sheppard Robson worked on the building. In addition to the outdoor classrooms, there will be extensive landscaping with new shrubs, and the timber-framed building is expected to save 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide compared with concrete or steel structures.

Norfolk County Council director of children's services Lisa Christensen said: "The passion and thoughtfulness that went into the proposals was awe-inspiring; I'm sure the new academy will lift the whole area and provide a wonderful learning and community environment."

The new three-storey building is set to replace the underperforming Heartsease High School and is expected to be completed in 2010.

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