Employment Academy / Peter Barber Architects

Employment Academy / Peter Barber Architects

  • Employment Academy / Peter Barber Architects
  • Employment Academy / Peter Barber Architects


The Employment Academy is a state of the art education and advice centre in Southwark. It offers skills training and support services for long term workless people with the intention of helping them back into sustainable employment.


The scheme is laid out around a delightful courtyard formed on two sides by a new L shaped training wing. It entails the refurbishment and substantial extension of ET Hall’s magnificent late Arts & Craft Poor Law Guardian’s building in Camberwell, South East London.

Administration offices and a community café within the existing building form the remaining sides of the courtyard. The courtyard is conceived as the social heart of the project.


New buildings are constructed in a rustic brick in a manner which might be called picturesque. Thick walls facing the courtyard incorporate a dramatic inset terrace, window seats and a south facing domed exedra. Existing facades are handled as a complex patchwork of new and reclaimed brick, of new windows cut in and old ones bricked up.

ET Hall’s treatment of the eastern wing of his building is pretty quirky, all turrets and mini towers… so the scheme adds one extra in the form of a tasty little tower with an extraordinary brick vaulted roof.


“This project reads almost as a love letter... a celebration of brick’s possibilities. The material has been deployed with remarkable plasticity, extending into the depth of the new volumes to form deep reveals and soffits. This kind of picturesque composition is familiar from the architect’s past work... It carries a distinctly theatrical flavour... a studied freedom... To see it alongside Hall’s building is to appreciate the extent to which it derives from Arts and Crafts sources.”

Ellis Woodman , Building Design Magazine



Extra info

Thames Reach

Structural Engineer:
Bolton Priestley

M&E/Sustainability Engineer:

Project Manager/Cost Consultant:


Thames Reach

Acoustic Consultant:
Acoustics Plus