CAPA College


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CAPA College is a specialist Creative and Performing Arts College for students aged 16-19.

The Brief

The vision was to create an outstanding 16-19 Free School that becomes a flagship as a post-16 centre of excellence in Arts Education.

The school is funded by the DfE framework and offers 500 students a completely unique specialist provision that will train, educate and inspire the next generation of Performers, Designers, Creatives, Technicians and Arts Academics.CAPA College is a specialist Creative and Performing Arts College for students aged 16-19 who are serious about pursuing a career in the Arts.

The College will provide 500 places across a two year course with students specialising in a specific arts pathway – Contemporary Dance, Drama (Stage and Screen Performing Arts, Musical Direction, Production Arts or Creative Media Production. This unique provision will become a flagship of excellence in the North.

The Design

The proposed College is built across 3 floors. Due to the height requirements of the dance, drama and more standard teaching spaces the building floor plates are split. At ground level a large cafe will be open to the public in addition to catering for the College itself. The cafe also functions as front of house space for performances held in the 150 seat theatre, that is at the heart of this building. Surrounding the theatre are a number of singing and drama studios that are equipped with the best technical facilities outside London; as well as workshops where students will be involved in the creation their own props and costumes. On the upper levels other technical teaching spaces include media, television and design studios. The site occupies a very prominent position in Wakefield in front of Westgate Station, the large showcase window to the main dance studio gives the building its identity as a gateway building to Wakefield.

The design approach for the building creates a ‘black box’ externally with the large elements of translucent glazing including defining the key dance and drama activities within. The black cladding takes an industrial feel with sinusoidal (wave) panels wrapping around the building and brings the idea of movement to the elevations. The raw industrial feel continues internally with polished concrete floors and exposed services.

The Outcome

CAPA College gained planning approval at committee in April 2019 and completed in April 2022. Initial feedback is wholly positive.

Project Architect Mark Eden said: “It’s been great to see early reactions to the completed building, especially where people have commented on how much it looks like our original visual. Our hope is this becomes a real flagship for the city; it is the only facility of its kind outside London so we’re proud it will provide opportunities to uncover more Northern talent!”