City and Islington College

Lighting up Further Education

On turning into Islington’s busy Goswell Road, a short distance from Angel underground station, one’s eye immediately alights upon the arresting 6th Form Centre building for City and Islington College (CIC). The building is both welcoming to the students and passers-by, and robust enough to withstand the traffic noise pollution and the wear and tear created by its thousands of students. It is, as required by the brief, a 24hour advertisement for the College.

Won in a competition to replace a series of poor buildings scattered around Islington, the 6th Form Centre building we designed projects a feeling of openness and welcome. It has both general and specialised teaching spaces, with a large hall just inside the entrance providing a flexible social assembly space that can be used for events and presentations. The building was completed in 2001, yet remains very well used and is a fundamental ingredient of the College’s (now part of the Capital City Colleges Group) 6th Form continuing success story.

“van Heyningen and Haward were commissioned by City and Islington College to design the college’s new Lifelong Learning Centre based at the Angel following a national RIBA design competition. During the design phase the brief was changed to a Sixth Form College following intervention from the DfES.  The resultant redesign reinforced the reasons why van Heyningen and Haward won the original competition.  A combination of light, acoustics and imaginative use of durable materials has resulted in a landmark building which inspires learning. I am happy to recommend them to other clients.”Peter Marsh – former Deputy Principal, Finance and Corporate Planning

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The competition brief from City and Islington College called for a Further Education building on the busy Goswell Road that would be visible and open to the community to attract adult learners from all over London, with good facilities that efficiently replaced the numerous poor buildings then being used by the College.

  • Project Details

    • Location: London
      Client: City and Islington College
      Area: 8000 m2

Our response was to design a six-storey glazed building which has a strong night-time identity when lit up like a shop window, bringing strong visibility and encouraging new learners, with inherently flexible spaces that would adapt to the ever-present change in the FE curriculum as it reacts to learner demands.

“City and Islington Sixth Form College at the Angel is a wonderful place for young people to study: our new, architect-designed building is quite breathtaking.”

Keren Abse, Director, City and Islington Sixth Form College

Under the influence of the funding authority, the College changed their brief, from adult learners to 6th Form students, and consideration had to be given to providing controlled access, accommodating defined group sizes, and the need to provide larger circulation due to the set timetable periods.

The site for City and Islington’s new 6th Form centre building was a long narrow strip along the Goswell Road just south of Angel, and thus very well connected by public transport to learners all over London. However, there were significant pollution and road noise issues, and the entrance needed to be at the extreme north of the relatively thin plot.

This generated a diagrammatic concept with open plan and flexible mechanically ventilated spaces towards the road, a linear core of servant spaces and circulation down the centre, and regular, naturally-ventilated spaces at the rear. The building steps down the hill, and the façade is enlivened by the three entirely glazed staircases.

Project Timeline

  • 2000
    Existing site
  • Competition entry
  • Concept design
  • Design development
  • Massing and elevations
  • Construction
  • Completion