Harris Academy Sutton

Terrain, trees and technical excellence shaped this school.

Emerging from the residential suburbs is a new gateway to the emerging London Cancer Hub, a school that promotes science and technology in its teaching and through the very fabric of the place.


The challenging brief to create a passivhaus secondary school situated on a steeply sloping site with many large and protected trees required a sensitive and considered response.

Each part of the school grounds was programmed to provide the social and active recreational spaces needed to support the 1275 pupils. To optimise the tight site, we lifted the MUGA to enable undercroft parking beneath with a permeable sports surface above. Connecting the levels with stepped and planted terraces ensured full accessibility and extra social space to compliment the canopied external dining terrace and informal plays spaces located between the wings.

By protecting the significant Beech and Monteray Cypress trees and planning the massing around these features the school achieves a sense of maturity from day once and sustains the sites key ecological features. Biosolar roofs above can be seen from upper classrooms and accessible as a learning resource for solar energy and biodiversity.

The sites sustainable urban drainage system supports the habitat gardens that bound the arrival courts which are framed by the entrance gates. Coded messages from Marie Currie and Albert Einstein have been detailed in to the metalwork, celebrating contemporary developments in life science and technology as inspiration to the pupils every day.

 (Churchman Thornhill Finch)
 (Churchman Thornhill Finch)
 (Churchman Thornhill Finch)