Brimmond School, Aberdeen
A purpose-built community facility, designed to meet the demanding requirements of the modern curriculum.
Aberdeen City Council
Our design solution was driven by the ancient Greek idea of an ‘Agora’; a public space at the centre of the social, cultural, spiritual and political life of Greek cities where citizens could meet and engage with each other. The agora concept helped us to organise a plan arrangement which clearly defines the school as a civic building via a generous front of house entrance experience linked directly to the central agora. The school was planned as a series of destinations like a small town or village each linked by stimulating, useable, meaningful spaces. Teaching clusters are organised around the agora in a staggered plan format and each cluster contains a large, naturally lit central activity space shared between the individual class bases around it.
The 4500sqm facility provides 420 primary and 80 nursery places as well as a specialist accommodation for visual support services. The classrooms are naturally ventilated and have large areas of glazing providing bright, healthy learning environments. Generous circulation spaces within the school double as shared informal learning spaces. The innovative design also features a range of outdoor provision including a cycle track to enable road safety lessons to take place within school complex, courts for basketball and netball in addition to an all-weather 3G sports pitch, an adventure playground, a sensory garden and a woodland wildlife area. First floor teaching spaces open out onto roof terraces which can be used as outdoor classrooms.
In acknowledgement of the surrounding low level residential buildings the school has been centrally located within the site and is designed to be viewed from all sides so as not to present a ‘back’ elevation to any of its neighbours. A simple palette of quality materials were selected, primarily white brick and black stained timber which have been detailed carefully to be durable and easily maintained and to age gracefully. The landscaping around the school was also carefully considered in order to encourage a meaningful interface with the community through the provision of a civic quality outdoor space for community gatherings and events, helping to secure the school’s role in the wider community.
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This project challenged us to provide a new state of the art teaching facility capable of promoting social inclusion both within the school and the wider community by creating open, inclusive spaces within the school, widening access to learning and encouraging lifelong learning in the community.
Our design solution embodies the idea of an ‘Agora’ – as an open space that forms the heart of the school. Historically, the Agora was the centre of the athletic, artistic, spiritual and political life of Greek and Roman cities, and is considered to be the birthplace of democracy.
We have interpreted this concept into a generous, activity rich social space that binds all aspects of the school together, a place to meet, to learn, to play, and to enjoy.
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