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Five Islands Academy | Isles of Scilly

Island school with horticultural tradition

Teenagers from the Isles of Scilly used to have to attend boarding school on the mainland, so the design and construction of a new combined junior and senior school on St Mary’s was life-changing for this offshore community.

This was a challenging site in terms of its topography and space limitations, but particularly its landscape and environmental sensitivity as it is within a Heritage Coast, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Conservation Area, all of which influenced the design.

The archipelago’s special micro-climate led to the use of native, or long-established tropical planting, while its separation from the mainland meant that elm trees could be planted, without fear of succumbing to Dutch Elm disease. Local granite was used in gabion walls, as an update to the traditional Scillonian stone banks.

Our design celebrated the outdoors as an active environment which complemented the syllabus, with exterior classrooms, courtyards, sports facilities, vegetable gardens, performance space and mounded play areas, divided into zones by planting.

The scheme won the Project of the Year (over £3m category) in the Michelmore’s / Western Morning News Commercial Property Awards and a commendation in the National Civic Trust Awards 2013.

Architect: Grainge Architects

Key features

  • NT lead EIA to planning consent
  • Landscape assessment 
  • Multiple heritage and environmental designations
  • Playful multi-level landscape
  • Horticultural space and heritage orchard

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