Merchants’ Academy

Merchants’ Academy is a new independent secondary school – sponsored by the University of Bristol and the Society of Merchant Venturers – which opened in 2008 on the site of the former Withywood Community School in Bristol.

The Grant Associates design created an integrated landscape for the academy, providing stimulating areas for relaxation, learning and play within a safe, creative and ecologically balanced setting.

Design Details:

  • Central courtyard space with seating and sensory planting to act as the external heart of the academy
  • Separate social area for Year 7 students with colourful blue paving and zones of recycled rubber surface
  • Series of sheltered teaching gardens with species appropriate to adjacent departments (eg herbs next to the cookery department)
  • Introduction of diverse range of habitats, including indigenous woodland planting, damp grassland swales, wildflower meadows, native hedgerow planting and wildlife friendly ornamental planting
  • ArchitectsPenoyre & Prasad
  • EngineersBuro Happold
  • Quantity SurveyorsDobson White Boulcott Ltd
  • LocationBristol, UK
  • Site area3.2 Hectares
  • ClientDepartment for Children, School and Families, Society of Merchant Venturers
  • Project value£24 million


Winner of BCSE Inspiring Design Award Highly Commended