Wednesday, 25 November 2009


This is just deadly, isn't it? This is an academy, the pride of Britain's schools system. The academy programme has created a generation of buildings that by and large are made of render, in white and coloured panels, designed by terrible architects like Ryder who treat them like just another developer piece of shit.
Like this one, academies often have glassy atrims to try to look less forbidding and more democratic than Victorian schools, but usually end up looking like they should be on a low-rent business park somewhere in, er, Ayrshire.
I like to imagine what the conversation in the Ryder office was like when they chose where to put the yellow panels in the wing on the left hand side. 'No, a bit left.' 'Put three yellow bits in that one." "Move that one a bay to the right." "That's it! Perfect."
The public realm outside has been comprehensively galvanised, with only the bits of timber on the benches giving a hint of what might have been.


  1. Where did that particular kind of galvanised railing suddenly appear from? It's sprouted like some kind of evil cockrash all over the place since about 2004. And it's always the same stuff.

    Especially nasty because it's so obviously thoughtless but also robust - great thick lengths of steel rod buried into concrete. At least this example doesn't have the unpleasantly cute rounded tops.

    Passive-aggressive surveillance architecture.

  2. The atriums are a bloody disaster, being both a waste of space and incredibly noisy when filled with snotty nosed yoof in large quantities. But every new 'academy'(makes it sound so much more uppity than 'school' or, even more of a nono, 'comprehensive') has to have one.

    Are those really tea chests? I can just see this five years down the line, when the seats are broken and the panels cracked, and litter is caught in the railings.

    We used to build schools to last, out of stone and stuff, impressive places, instilled a bit of awe, but you're right, these days they have to look like jaunty ie tacky low budget hotels so the little dears don't feel daunted by thoughts of academia. So why call them academies?

  3. Come come now, Nemesis ! The "snotty nosed yoof" is the client group for this excrescence. Don't blame them !

    Academies are a bad idea for many reasons - chiefly the opportunity it gives "snotty nosed olds" to preach their bigoted agendas to our children. But my thanks to Ghost of Nairn for introducing a further one: their lamentable architecture and design.

    This actually makes the current government's much maligned Building Schools for the Future (BSF) schools look good !

    Tory education policy hinges on widening the "academisation" programme, decimating BSF, de-regulating and "removing planning obstacles" (read: minimum design standards intended to ensure modern, friendly and tech-enabled learning spaces for children) and allowing pretty much any Tom, Dick and Harry to access government funding to build new schools - even in areas where there is no demand for school places.

    Vote for them if you'd like to see a)competition among schools; b) schools set up by 'interest groups' (creationists, islamists, WASPs, etc.), not the state; and c) more buildings like this piece of shit.

  4. I know, really I do know, all about education policy and the horrors to come, but that's for another rant, and, actually, also school buildings and their history and development.

    There's never been a golden age of education policy in reality.

    Add to the list - perfectly sound and decent school buildings which could last a few more generations being torn down, while stuff like this will last possiby ten fifteen years before going to seed, then hanging on in there for more decades getting worse without the cash to spend on repair.

    The problem is with building education buildings is that they are so often out of date before they are complete as ideas about how to educate our yoof alter at a whim. Best in many cases to adapt the buildings we have, as by next year another fad will have overtaken education.

  5. It's not an Academy in the English sense. Academies in Scotland are high schools with a posher name.
    It is, however, a prime example of the hideousness of the new school buildings foisted upon the country by the Scottish Government. There are 'case studies' on the government website, but oddly none from Aberdeen...

  6. My first reaction was 'I'm sure I've seen that building before' then I remembered where - on a recent programme about the fall of the Berlin wall. I looks just like something from the DDR in the 60's. So, maybe this isn't bad architecture. Maybe it is a clever encapsulation of the real function of the building and the values to be found inside. We probably do the indoctrination but perhaps not the thorough scientific education. Stasi office is the yellow bit.

  7. how do i upload a photo? there are two corkers of ugly buildings in plymouth and i would like to share them...please tell me if this is poss or who is the owner of the blog so i can send them to him/her/it..thanks :D

  8. Wasn't this school featured on the semi-recent Doctor Who episode "School Reunion?" It has the same dire military-industrial complex look as the school in that episode, anyway.

  9. Is there any particular reason why much of the criticism of current architectural fashion in this "blog" has to be written with the use of profanities?
    Comments would carry more weight if written in polite English with reasoned argument!

  10. Yes there is a reason why this """blog""" uses vernacular expressions of disquiet. It's because """"""architects"""""""" and their aesthetics-free town planner plastic-shoe-wearing, white-sock-sporting paymasters have compromised this country's social fabric unchecked since WWII. You are a virus and lay us all low with your concrete remedialness. Got it, ponytail-man?

  11. PsyGeo well said!
    I only found this website via and i must say you lot are right on the mark!
    However, these bad designs appear to circle around the fact that all they are trying to acheive is the biggest floor space they can fit in alongside the biggest carpark needed, with the odd 'D' shaped cycle rack thrown in for good measure.

  12. I actually went to Prestwick Academy and some of the comments, especially the one referring to us as "little dears", are nothing but mindless reactions from people who are unable to see the real reason schools like this are designed- for education and function. An Academy is a school run by the parents and teachers and not the government in Scotland hence why we have the PTA whereas a High School here is government run alone. This definition is for the comment referring to our Academy just having a "posher" name. You are here to give comments on the building so maybe it would be in your interest to concern that and not the education system especially if you do not understand it.

  13. I just left Prestwick Academy last year. And I can honestly say that the building works. It's key strength is function, but unfortunately the building caused a slightly negative effect on the students. These things get built alongside the day to day running of the old building. By the time it was done, everyone was just used to staying indoors during lunch breaks and morning intervals. 1200 kids in the main foyer? Ouch. I believe it's getting better though. The building works, it's up to the people though to keep it in shape.

  14. Having been 'subjected' to attending the old Prestwick Academy this to me is a godsend. Yes it might be square and characterless to some extent but those yellow panels are the only things with colour in the town come a winter's day in Prestwick. We could have went for the local red sandstone of the area or hired Phillipe Starck to design it but then the council would have gone bankrupt. What do you do? You go for what you can get - if its an improvement on the last one - which it is. The old Academy (renamed from Prestwick High School in 1968, when it became a six-year secondary instead of the previous 4 - and absolutely NOTHING to do with current English educational policy) was a hotch-potch of 7 different buildings built in the Edwardian era, the 50s and then the 60's Stop looking down your noses at these buildings because you think you know so much better than everyone else - they are an improvement on the poor facilities that existed before them and benefit the community in which they are placed - sorry if its not aesthetically pleasing but it does do the job - get over yourselves and try doing something more important that just slagging stuff of to make yourself look knowledgeable.

  15. I wish I could understand why arcitectural firms continue to churn out utter rubbish! I mean there is 'cost effectiveness' and then there is simple lack of care. It is like someone has opened up a folder of previous design from 20 odd years ago and just submitted it to planning. Shoddy work. Norfolk Architects