Plymouth College of Art wins Client of the Year at the AJ100 awards

Plymouth College of Art and Plymouth School of Creative Arts have won this year’s prestigious Client of the Year award at the international Architects’ Journal AJ100 awards, nominated by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, designers of The Red House, home to Plymouth School of Creative Arts. The Red House was also shortlisted in the final six for the AJ100 Building of the Year award, alongside buildings such as Buenos Aires Ciudad Casa de Gobierno, the offices of the President of Argentina.

Plymouth School of Creative Arts was founded by Plymouth College of Art in 2013 as a radical new kind of mainstream city centre 3–16 all-through Free School that, together with the college, is establishing a progressive continuum of creative learning and practice from age three to Masters level study and beyond.

Andy Theobald, Studio Leader at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, said:

“We were delighted when Plymouth School of Creative Arts and Plymouth College of Art were jointly shortlisted for Client of The Year for the AJ100 Awards. The impact of the school on the local and wider arts community, the fact that the school is visible from Plymouth Sound as the beacon of regeneration in Millbay combined with the hugely positive impact it has had on the learning progression of the pupils are the reasons why FCBS jointly nominated Andrew Brewerton and Dave Strudwick as best clients of the year.

“In a climate of austerity and decreasing investment into the arts, these clients have managed to completely turn around this trend and provide a fantastic arts based educational resource for Plymouth across all ages.”

At the formal opening of The Red House, Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate, hailed the school and creative continuum project as “an event in the history of education in this country.” The Red House was designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, a group renowned for their inspirational arts and education architectural designs, which include art universities, galleries and exhibition spaces such as the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The Red House acts as a site for pedagogical innovation in creative learning and as a catalyst for community regeneration in Plymouth’s Millbay docklands, an area which includes amongst the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods in the country. The building offers agile, open-plan studio spaces rather than traditional classrooms, mirroring the radical pedagogic structure of teaching within the school. These transparent areas are designed to both inspire students and provoke staff to work in new ways.

Creative design solutions and intricate planning by Feilden Clegg Bradley and intense collaboration between the architects, construction company and Plymouth College of Art, led to a cost of only £1,450 per m2, a fraction of the former Building Schools for the Future project costs. Adherence to tight deadlines allowed for partial occupation of the building after only 18 months. These accomplishments were made possible due to the high level of trust that the college placed in Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ ability to put its vision of creative education into practice. This trust, which led to the creation of a landmark that acts as a symbol of regeneration to visitors arriving in Plymouth, is the reason that Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios jointly nominated the college and school for the AJ100 Client of the Year award.

The school, which has already been rated Good by Ofsted inspectors, supports the transformation of individual life chances for students and has had an immediate impact on local families, with a range of community groups using the building during evenings and weekends. The distinctive ethos of the school is an art school ethos, an approach where children and staff at the school learn through making in all subject areas, across a broad and balanced school curriculum.



Plymouth College of Art first begin working with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios in 2011, undertaking a master plan for the college’s city centre site which involved developing a long term vision for creative education in Plymouth. This process led to the creation of the college’s Craft, Design and Fabrication Workshops, which housing state-of-the-art facilities including Jewellery studios, Printed Textile Design workshop spaces, Glass-blowing house, Ceramics space, FabLab and a specialist purpose-built, triple-height, north light drawing studio.

Last year the Craft, Design and Fabrication Workshops, which were officially opened by creative visionary Sir John Sorrell, were shortlisted in the Building of the Year Category at the Michelmores Property Awards.