The Charles Darwin Academy is a £3million conversion of a 1960s office block into a free school in the centre of Norwich. Working alongside Chaplin Farrant Architects, the key challenge was being able to plan a school in a building that was clearly intended to be used in an education setting, but which met, and surpassed where possible, the requirements for a modern and vibrant place of learning. A clear and rigorous concept plan was established that split the school in learning and recreation spaces, and where possible, every space had a duel use so the building worked as hard as possible. A key part of the design was forming bright and colourful library spaces in what were unusable corners. A new sports hall was formed by knocking through two floors so that sport and recreation could be taught effectively despite the building’s initial challenges. The result is a new and contemporary school that makes best use of an existing building, thereby demonstrating that ‘unsustainable’ new construction is not necessarily the best way to deliver new education buildings. They just need some thought.