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First of five new schools opens in East Dubartonshire

Innovative new primary school opens its doors, paving the way for Scottish primary schools of the future

Posted by Stephanie Broad | December 01, 2015 | Bricks & mortar

Lairdsland Primary School is the first of five new schools to be completed for East Dunbartonshire Council’s Primary School Improvement Programme, as part of Scotland's £1.8 billion Schools for the Future programme, which aims to rebuild or refurbish some of the country’s poorest schools.

Mindful of Scotland's innovative Curriculum for Excellence, and following close consultation with client groups, the school and local parents, the design has been hailed as one which will change the thinking on how schools are laid out in the future.

Scheduled monument consent was required to build adjacent to the Forth and Clyde Canal and ensure the historic character of the canalside setting was not affected. The resulting two-storey building creates a strong presence towards the towpath opposite and the adjacent marina, improving the sense of community in this industrial area.

The design, by Walters & Cohen Architects, is contemporary to suit a range of teaching and learning styles. The acoustic design was carefully considered to ensure that numerous teaching activities could take place in the heart space and the adjacent formal learning areas.

The teaching space is open and flexible. All photos courtesy of ©Dennis Gilbert/VIEW

The school has double-height glazed screens that offer views from one side of the school to the other; fun and bright learning spaces; covered outdoor learning areas; and an open plan heart space showcasing an amphitheatre staircase. Furniture was also carefully selected to provide flexible teaching opportunities. 

The design achieved a BREEAM rating of Excellent. Renewable energy is provided by a biomass boiler and photovoltaics on the roof. The local authority has already used the principles of the design in a number of new schools. 

Michál Cohen, Director of Walters & Cohen Architects, said: 'Lairdsland is our first primary school in Scotland and we are very pleased to have produced a tailor-made response to the special location on the Forth & Clyde Canal, and to the aims of the school, the Council and SFT. The challenge of devising a brief to meet the requirements of the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence made this a very interesting and rewarding project.'  

Grant Robertson, Associate Director at the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) which leads Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme, said: “As the Scotland’s Schools for the Future Programmes ‘Reference Primary School’, Lairdsland Primary School is attracting lots of interest and appears to be revitalising thinking on how future primary schools across Scotland are designed and used. The innovative design provides all councils with a scalable and tried and tested solution which is allowing local authorities to evolve and fine tune elements of the design principles to respond to the specific requirements of their own design brief. This is an excellent example of how clever thinking, coupled with a very effective and efficient design solution is being used to create fantastic, high quality environments for pupils and teachers to learn and teach in.”

Rhondda Geekie, Leader at East Dunbartonshire Council, said: 'The design consultations with architects, pupils, staff and parents have translated into a fantastic, modern and inspirational learning environment for the children attending Lairdsland Primary School. Both the indoor and outdoor facilities are truly excellent and the attractive building is a really valuable new presence in the community.”    

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