Portakabin - Global Academy, London

Project Details


Project - Global Academy, London
Sector - Education
Technology - Volumetric Modular 
Company - Portakabin



Project Overview


Winner of 2018 Offsite Awards - Education Project of the Year

Global Academy is a state school for 14-19 year olds, founded and sponsored by Global, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment groups. It prepares students for careers in the broadcast and digital media industry, offering academic and vocational training to help them succeed in the real world. The Global Academy was officially opened by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry in April 2017.

Supported by The Department for Education, the £16m Global Academy will teach 800 students every year by 2020.

Engineered and built by Portakabin and designed with architects Surface to Air, the 8,700m2 space has a forward-thinking design which reflects the creative ethos of the new college. The new building is on the site of the Old Vinyl Factory, once the EMI headquarters, in Hayes in West London.

Advanced offsite technology seamlessly integrates both modular and site-based building solutions. A significant proportion of the project’s construction was completed at the Portakabin production centre in York to meet the challenging timescale. It would have taken up to two years to build this academy using traditional methods. Offsite reduced this to just 12 months allowing the school to open in time for enrolment for the new term.

The Global Academy has an iconic, futuristic design which has created an inspiring environment for learning. A spectacular roof-lit central atrium provides a dynamic circulation space and focal point for the college. There is a sculptural “criss-cross” feature staircase and a high level of natural light available to the students and staff through the significant amount of glazed walls to the classrooms. The colour pallet is bold and expressive with strong graphics. Anodised aluminium mesh cladding encloses the north and south elevations from first floor to roof level with areas of full height glazing around the ground floor.

This technically-complex building was designed to deliver a demanding acoustic specification for the broadcast areas, with triple glazing and specially-engineered air conditioning. Media and lighting have been integrated into the highly glazed west façade which can be illuminated during live broadcasts from the building.

This high specification scheme was constructed by Portakabin as Principal Contractor. The site was constrained with only four metres between the boundary and the new building, and required complex groundworks, extensive excavations for district heating, and the construction of a new electricity sub-station.

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