Zaha Hadid's Evelyn Grace Academy

Zaha Hadid. Evelyn Grace Academy, Brixton. 2010 photograph: Luke Hayes/PRLost in society.  When I lived one tube stop away from Brixton it had race riots and people lived in crumbling Victorian terraces if not in tower blocks – Dickens in the late twentieth century.  Some things haven't changed much although Brixton has its gentrified pockets; Rowan Moore says it has the highest crime rate in Europe.  This is the site of Zaha Hadid's Evelyn Grace Academy, a leaning z-shaped building with the running track shooting through it. 

Rowan Moore's review is worth reading for how this project actually happened, who commissioned it, the educational and school-building context under Labour and why children who suffer much privation should have a serious piece of architecture in which to be schooled.  He points out the architecture of Edward Robson whose schools were built across London under the Elementary Education Act of 1870 – buildings of grace and light, still in use today, although not always as schools.

The Evelyn Grace Academy is what we would call a charter school I suppose: strict discipline, uniforms, traditional teaching.  The sense of it being a social service community centre is not in its brief.  The architecture is, as Moore states, adult, rather than child-centred and cute.  It supports the academy's expectation that students be adult and responsible. 

Not sure what the students would think about it but  I can compare it to the dreary box I went to school in, the imaginatively named NDSS, whose architecture supports (still) the expectation that students be careless with buildings and indifferent to architecture, and as I recall, careless with learning, and indifferent to almost everything.

Stephanie Whitearchitecture