Jestico + Whiles was appointed in 2012 to design a new secondary school in Victoria Park Village. The project was a LEP-procured project as a follow on to Hackney's BSF programme. The scheme remodelled a Victorian listed building, lodge building and provided a new four-storey extension, completed in 2014.
The site allocated for the new school was a Grade-II listed former Huguenot Hospital dating from 1865 and which has operated as a school since 1949. This existing building was not large enough to accommodate the 800 pupils, so it was converted to accommodate the general teaching requirements of the academy, with specialist and communal facilities provided in a new extension building.
The former hospital building, with its grand staircase, top-lit circulation and ornate Gothic features also accommodates the school's library in the original court room. The chapel has been converted to a multi-functional drama space. The building was sympathetically refurbished throughout to meet the specific needs of Mossbourne whilst retaining its historic character internally and externally.
The new four-storey building erected alongside accommodates a sports hall and assembly hall which are open for community use by local residents. Dining, performance and specialist teaching facilities are also housed in the new build, which was constructed using a cross laminated timber (CLT) structure which enabled a speedier construction programme, relieving budget pressures.
The former Huguenot Hospital is a unique building in Hackney, with a French Gothic style structure standing in landscaped grounds. The new building was deliberately developed in the shadow of the existing, to ensure the French hospital dominates the site, with the extension encroaching as little as possible either physically, on the open space around the listed building, or visually, on views towards the building. It has been positioned sympathetically in a collegiate relationship with the hospital, producing interesting new spaces and relationships with the historic building. The new entrance courtyard provides a positive external space, linking old and new.
The new building employs a simple palette of materials including a brick base, which does not try to mimic the imposing terracotta of the existing, a neutral grey render and a timber clad penthouse, set back to reduce the apparent mass of this fourth floor, which also conceals rooftop plant.
The project has transformed the former French hospital site, providing a sustained and continued public use for the building, avoiding the threat of it being converted to residential flats. The academy have remarked that they really value the historic building alongside the contemporary facilities provided.