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New £28.5m building for Portobello High School

Saint-Gobain offered solutions for the new Edinburgh school building

Posted by Lucinda Reid | February 10, 2017 | Supplier News

Saint-Gobain in Scotland has supplied a range of solutions for the new £28.5 million Portobello High School building, in Edinburgh.

Commissioned by the City of Edinburgh Council, the new building accommodates 1,400 pupils and has replaced the existing building on Duddington Road, home to the school for 51 years.

In addition to more traditional teaching and learning spaces, the development incorporates a 25m swimming pool, games hall, gymnasium and two all-weather sports pitches for school and wider community use. With 22 brands operating overall in Scotland, seven of the businesses worked in close collaboration to support the school build; British Gypsum, Celotex, Frazer, International Timber, Ecophon, Jewson and Isover supplied a range of innovative products, from wall to floor solutions.

The solutions specified will provide key benefits, such as thermal efficiency and sound insulation to create a comfortable teaching environment for students, teachers and visitors. The multi-purpose insulation board, Celotex TB4025, was used on the ground floor of Portobello High School, to overcome localised thermal bridges. By reducing thermal bridging, this product solution will ensure reliable long-term energy savings for the building.

Acoustic performance is a key consideration for school buildings, as poorly designed sound environments can have a negative impact on learning and concentration in schools, as well as hindering classroom communication.

As a result, British Gypsum’s Gyproc DuraLine plasterboard was specified to enhance sound insulation and impact resistance performance, contributing to a peaceful learning environment for pupils. In addition, Isover supplied acoustic partition roll to the project, a high-performance glass mineral wool, that helps to reduce noise from adjacent rooms. As well as offering superb acoustic performance, the product is made from up to 86% of recycled glass, making it an environmentally friendly acoustic solution.

The new school building has had a positive impact on all of us – the students are happier and there is a spring in the step of teachers too. 

International Timber also worked closely with the Jewson Branch in Falkirk to supply a range of timber product solutions for the stairways and corridors in the school, as well as the outside entrance. Timber cladding provides an attractive, lasting and durable finish both for internal and external environments. Fire treated Siberian larch cladding, lacquered oak timber and MDF Oak and skirting was specified, in addition to dressed timber, sawn timber and plywood sheets. Siberian Larch is a strong robust wood with moderate durability and is resistant to rot and fungal attack. The timber is pleasing to the eye with warm colours: golden brown varying to yellow and orange in heartwood. Due to its high density, Larch wood maintains high wear resistance and is non-corrosive.

JM Architects, based in Edinburgh, commented: “The timber elements have been chosen to visually counter point external soffits and features with the lighter rendered surfaces. Internally the bridge and stair were detailed to visually make them prominent elements within the interiors. The materials allow for future wear and tear and patination of the surfaces by the pupils and teachers of the school.” 

Ecophon’s Akusto Wall A system was installed in the Games Hall in a Super G Grey finish. The system is an impact resistant wall absorber, so is ideal considering the size and nature of the space. The Super G Wall Panels are impact resistant and also provide Class A absorption to aid with acoustics.

Frazer, a Saint-Gobain distribution brand, supplied over £100,000 of materials to the building, including drainage systems and landscaping solutions including paving, kerbs and manhole rings.

Stuart McKill, Sustainable Habitat Leader for Saint-Gobain in Scotland, said: “As one of the largest manufacturing and building distribution businesses in the UK, we are able to supply a wide range of product solutions that work together to provide buildings that are not only fit for purpose, but provide benefits to the occupants, in this instance the pupils and teaching staff. We are thrilled that such a large amount of our products have been chosen for Portobello High School, and we are confident that pupils will be able to benefit from a learning environment that truly puts them first.”

Ruth McKay, Headteacher at Portobello High School, added: “The new school building has had a positive impact on all of us – the students are happier and there is a spring in the step of teachers too. It feels special to come into a building like this; the environment will be a great place to learn for the students. The effect on the local community is going to be felt too, as it will benefit the people around Portobello who can hopefully embrace and make use of this fantastic facility.”

The new school building opened at the beginning of November. JM Architects worked on the project alongside main contractor Balfour Beatty Ltd and A + E Construction Scotland Ltd.  

For more information about Saint-Gobain in Scotland, visit    

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