Harris Academy, Purley

UK – £18.5 million – RIBA Stages: B-D

A 14,000 square metre secondary school in Croydon. Aedas were invited by Wilmott Dixon to bid for the design work for a contractor led rationalisation, redevelopment and extension of the existing school under the Harris Federation.


The school had been developed over various different eras and the principle problem was a lack of cohesion between these elements, floor levels in each part that varied by up to 0.6 metres amplified this. The brief was to refurbish and unify these spaces and build a 3,500 square metre extension to house the school’s new specialism department in business and enterprise. I joined the team in the final stages of the initial bid against one other architecture firm. We spent a total of two months securing the work and beginning the design development phase. Unfortunately due to a change in government policy almost all of the academy projects including this one were put on hold indefinitely.


We had a client engagement meeting every other week so it was a high pressure, hands on project with lots of interactive models. The team comprised of just five people so I was involved in almost every aspect of the bid from strategy, massing and organisational development to the delivery of the early facades package. I participated in regular internal design reviews and meetings with the structural and MEP consultants, the QS and Wilmott Dixon. For the winning submission of this competition I produced elevations, facade studies into form, materiality and precedents, provisional detailed sections for the external envelope and 3D phasing and concept models.