Written by Phillip Pollington Board Director

This innovative project called for an alternative spatial strategy to reflect the Academy’s curricula, offering new and exciting approaches to education through a mix of academic, vocational and project-based learning.

The Apollo Studio Academy is the first of its kind in Durham. The Academy, which serves 300 students, aged 14-18, is centred-around a curriculum which has been developed in close consultation with local employers, and, to reflect this, the Academy wanted the space to function less like a classroom and more like a professional working environment.


  • Schools and Academies


Apollo Studio Academy / East Durham College

East Durham, UK


The Academy was to be housed in a previously undeveloped wing of East Durham College’s Peterlee Campus, which was designed by Jefferson Sheard in 2008. It was important to design a layout that would be flexible and contemporary, offering the feel of a ‘hub’ – a place for collaboration and the exchange of ideas – an environment conducive to project-based learning and social interaction. The main focus of the design was for the open project learning area to be presented immediately upon arrival to the space.

Go to Build


Instead of using solid walls, screens break up the open space. Coloured motifs applied in film to these screens provide an element of privacy, and the ‘cubist’ motif is an extension of the College’s branding, aiding visual wayfinding to the Academy through the College.

Go to In-use

“This is a modern, vibrant and professional working environment for the students which will be stimulating as well as practical.”

Kim Williams, Interior Designer, Jefferson Sheard Architects


It has been so pleasing to hear such great feedback from the end users. We set out to provide a future-proofed design to accommodate technological and pedagogical change – a very common brief from our Higher Education clients, and increasingly from our Further Education clients. It has been enjoyable to collaborate with the staff of the new school and we are excited to have designed a professional, social and work-place learning environment which will serve many generations to come.

“I am particularly pleased with the way the architects have maximised the available light. The space feels so light and airy; and we can already see the positive effect the new build is having on our students’ enthusiasm to learn. I’d like to thank the team at Jefferson Sheard for their valuable contribution in helping us set up this exciting new school. The school is going to have a fantastic impact on the lives of many young people over the coming years.”

Sally Hudson, Principal, Apollo Studio Academy

The Team

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