Archbishop Sentamu Academy
Hull, United Kingdom
Archbishop Sentamu Academy
Hull, United Kingdom

Embracing the spirit of education. By fusing technology and modern learning with an institution rooted in history, an academy can rise above traditional education and become a place where students can work together to broaden the scope of understanding and prepare themselves for the future.

The Archbishop Sentamu Academy, a £35M state-of-the-art school in East Hull, opened its doors in December 2011. The brand-new academy, sponsored by the Diocese of York, specializes in science and business and enterprise. It accommodates up to 1,550 students between the ages of 11 and 18. There are five suites of learning houses and science and technology labs that are arranged around two large atria. The school features a 350-seat theatre, professional standard catering facilities and a motor vehicle maintenance workshop. A chapel and library sit at the pinnacle of the soaring roof that forms a bold physical beacon of learning in its community and throughout the wider city.


The Vision

Principal Andrew Chubb and the Academy sponsor, the Diocese of York, developed a bold vision for the provision of education and learning that seeks to transform learning and employment opportunities for pupils and the community in the depressed area of East Hull. In conjunction with Andrew’s work in alternative curriculum models, the academy responds to the provision of a variety of learning pathways with a diverse set of learning spaces supporting academic excellence and real-life vocational training in professional standard environments. From the outset there was a desire to create learning environments in which to foster critical exchanges among pupils through teamwork and among various subjects in cross-curricular collaborations. Exchange became a driver in the project. The theatre, visible from the street, opens fully to the café and agora beyond to allow exchange among the school, the performers and the wider community. It is a beacon of learning in the public realm.


The Design

The architecture, combined with the interiors solutions, has provided flexible spaces allowing staff members to deliver their lessons in a myriad of approaches. This is particularly evident in the arena space that comprises two classrooms with a central divider. This can be pulled open to give the option of a larger collaborative or presentation space holding up to 60 students. The FF&E solution selected allows for these arrangements to be assembled with speed and ease.

The Winter Garden Arena is a prodigious space with vast quantities of light. It is the central area of the Academy and is part of our endeavour to create a more adaptable and polished setting for both students and the wider community. It serves as a place to dine, read, socialise and study and also can accommodate impromptu meetings or gatherings. The relaxing atmosphere is enhanced by the presence of two cafes that foster a sociable and urbane feeling.

For the interior design of the Academy, we utilised colours based on existing house colours. These colours have been filtered into the internal signage and wayfinding strategy to create a more fluid feel. The differentiation between zones is reinforced by the floor finishes, joinery and fixed furniture, the colours of which were selected to be easily identifiable against the white background of the walls and ceilings and the more neutral palette of the rest of the furnishings. Main areas are designated by sole use of the Academy’s brand colour, purple, and in specialised areas we introduced complementary colours such as orange for science classrooms.