IBI Nightingale Inspire Students at Oxford Spires Academy

The IBI Nightingale designed Reuben Business Centre at Oxford Spires Academy in Oxford has officially been opened by Lord Krebs and British businessman and philanthropist David Reuben.

The £8.2-million centre is a beacon for excellence, providing a range of first-class facilities including; ITC, business enterprise, science laboratories, research hub, sixth form centre, PE classrooms and 330-seat lecture theatre.

A three-storey renovation and extension, the design transforms an existing 1960s teaching block into an uniquely identifiable building; wrapping itself around the existing structure to draw visitors into its impressive atrium.

Central to this spacious and naturally lit void is an ICT research hub designed to encourage student self development, interaction and collaboration outside of the classroom. Adaptable to academic and social activities, this formal but contemporary space also appeals to the local adult education and business community.

Stuart Ward, Project Architect at IBI Nightingale said:

“The Academy’s philosophy is to treat its students as young adults, preparing them for the world of work. As designers we have supported these educational aspirations throughout the design. Exterior and interior materials, branding and colour palettes have been chosen to create a professional and mature appearance, emulating a high quality workplace environment that achieves respect from its users.”

Resonating around the research hub are inspirational interpretations on the Academy’s strap-line; ‘be the best you can be’. The design uses super-graphics and lingual manifestations to promote a sense of belonging and make students feel inspired by their surroundings.

Martha McSweeney, Harwell Office Principal said:

“Designing a space that inspired student achievement was a shared goal for both the Academy and the design team. In a pilot study by the University of Salford and IBI Nightingale it was found that the classroom environment can affect a child’s academic progress over a year by as much as 25%. Working alongside our research team, IBI THiNK we carefully planned classroom orientation, flexibility, colour, natural light, noise, temperature, air quality to positively impact both teaching and learning.”

Sue Croft, Principal Oxford Spires Academy said:

“The Ruben Business Centre is absolutely stunning. The impressive combination of the old and the new creates a light, airy and fluid space that delivers professional and productive learning spaces for our students and local community. Inspiring inside and out, it encourages good behaviour, pride and ownership; we are overwhelmed by the quality of design.”

The vision for the Reuben Business Centre is to support skills for life and future success, especially within business. Part-funded by a donation from the Reuben Foundation, IBI Nightingale alongside the contractor Kier designed and built the scheme within 18 months.