Alness Academy

The new Alness Academy is a 9600m2 secondary school designed to accommodate 600 pupils and to replace the existing facility on the same site.




The Highland Council / Hub North Scotland Ltd



The completed new Alness Academy, designed by jmarchitects and delivered by Kier Construction for Hub North Scotland Ltd and The Highland Council, is a 9600m2 secondary school designed to accommodate 600 pupils and to replace the existing facility on the same site. The development is part of the Scottish Government’s Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme, managed by the Scottish Futures Trust. The proposed site masterplan and building design have been carefully considered to allow for future extension of the academy to accommodate an anticipated increased pupil role, the need of which has been generated by extensive new housing proposed for the area. The design has been developed in response to participant’s brief and through regular dialogue, meetings and workshops with The Highland Council and other stakeholders.

The site layout is ordered around a central pedestrian ‘spine’ that ‘collects’ staff and pupils arriving via the existing cycle & footpath to the west, pedestrian bridge from the town centre immediately to the north, bus drop off and car park, leading to a civic arrival space at the school and community entrances, with views through the glazed entrance, through the double height dining / assembly space to the landscaped grounds and views to the south.

The new school building is formed of two adjacent and connected elements for flexibility of operation: a sports block housing a 4 court games hall, gymnasium and 6 lane 25m pool, and a two storey main teaching block with classrooms and breakout spaces wrapping around the double height assembly, dining and drama spaces with a central open plan learning resource centre, in a highly legible layout that brings natural light and ventilation to the heart of the building via generous glazing, voids and rooflights. The ‘L’ shaped form of the main teaching block wraps around the soft landscaped south facing outdoor space, providing shelter from prevailing winds and enabling a visual connection between the playground and double height social Dining / Assembly space. The L-shaped teaching block has 14 general teaching classrooms, 6 science labs and other associated science facilities, 3 arts and ceramic classrooms, technologies & business classrooms and workshops, music & drama classrooms/practice rooms, hair & beauty salon, a traditional teaching kitchen (Home Economics) and several SEBN (Social, Emotional & Behavioural Needs) and ASN (Additional Support Needs) classrooms and associated facilities.

Use of the sports facilities, which include two all-weather 3G sports pitches, will be shared between the school and the community.

The new school reflects high standards commensurate with a modern secondary school facility and to provide high quality accommodation that will inspire both staff and young people to achieve their potential.

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The Challenge

The brief required the provision of high quality shared learning, sports and performance facilities for use by the school and the local community on the constrained site of the existing school and a separate community swimming pool building.

The Solution

The sports and main teaching blocks are arranged in way that offers a clear and integrated site solution incorporating existing landscape and infrastructure where appropriate. The position of the main teaching block offers separation between the public entrance courtyard and the semi-private teaching outdoor space beyond.

The Outcome

An innovative and functional building that responds to the brief developed in collaboration with end users and offers an enhanced learning environment and high quality facilities for local community.

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