Castlebrae Community Campus

A replacement campus for Castlebrae High School, to incorporate community facilities and relocated to a prominent site in the Craigmillar Town Centre, forming one of the final pieces of a 20 year long regeneration project to improve housing stock and community facilities in the area.




City of Edinburgh Council / Hub South East



The new building is located alongside retail units and the East Neighbourhood Centre (comprising Council Local Offices and the Craigmillar Library) and provides accommodation for 700 pupils, with provision for expansion to increase capacity to 1200 pupils. The design has a strong placemaking focus as it forms a frontage to Niddrie Mains Road, placing community education visibly at the heart of the community.

The location of the school facilitates outdoor learning, facing open community edges and into the learning parkland to the north. Important views from the school are orientated toward the historic skyline of Edinburgh in this way the design connects the school to the city.

A key idea of the design is an articulated building cross section of “spaces” that “interlock”, educational spaces for collaborative learning and informal breakout areas. Spaces that are visually connected exploiting the slope of the site enabling pupils to enjoy long views to the surroundings and to navigate their way through the school with ease.

The facility is a warm, welcoming home for the close-knit school community, providing bright, comfortable, spacious, and inclusive accommodation. Facilities include innovative teaching space in the form of collaborative learning plazas as well as more traditional classrooms, to encourage a range of teaching and learning experiences; modern sports facilities including a Games Hall, Fitness Suite, and Dance Studio; and large dining / social space, directly linked to the adjacent Assembly Space at the lower level and forming the heart of the school. A variety of spaces are available for community use, and Large glazed areas at street level showcases pupils work to the wider community that is intended to help activate the new public square.

Industry-leading 3D modelling and environmental analysis helped shape the daylighting and environmental strategy for the building, providing a high level of comfort for the buildings users. Working closely with the City of Edinburgh Council’s technical staff ensured energy use and running costs were considered at the earliest possible stage and helped to inform the design of the fabric of the building as well as the services within. The urban setting of the building, adjacent to a busy main road, provided opportunities for increasing the civic presence of the school itself and allow external space to be maximised with an innovative and varied landscape design. This presented challenges to the design team regarding the provision of natural daylighting and ventilation whilst eliminating noise and pollution from nearby traffic.

In addition to creating a pupil welfare orientated learning environment, the design delivers several important sustainable features:
– Extensive use of P.V roof panels
– Controlled LED lighting and water saving devices
– Selective heat recovery systems

The project has achieved a BREEAM Good rating, an EPC B+ rating and was modelled in accordance with BB101 and BB90 climate-based daylight modelling.

Project gallery

Below are a selection of images from this project along with a description. Tap an image and it will appear fullscreen with a close button. There will also be the option to view the next image in the gallery.

The Challenge

Transferring a small, close knit school community from a substandard building into a new, state of the art building, whilst retaining the incredible sense of aspiration, kinship and community amongst staff, pupils and parents.

The Solution

Working closely with The Authority, school community and holding regular thematic workshops allowed the Design Team to become part of that community and to truly understand their needs, aspirations, and requirements. Getting to know the staff, how they operated in the existing building and how they intended to encourage learning in the new building helped to inform the design.

The Outcome

A unique, innovative school design that is tailored to the specific needs of the school following close collaboration and consultation, whilst making a positive contribution to the streetscape and wider community of Craigmillar.

Related Projects

East Lothian Nurseries

East Lothian Nurseries

East Lothian Nurseries To meet the 1,140 hours Early Learning and Childcare expansion in Musselburgh, Prestonpans and West Barns, three existing Primary Schools were extended and refurbished with...

Galashiels Community Campus

Galashiels Community Campus

Galashiels Community Campus New 1000 pupil community campus combining secondary education, additional support needs and community sports & leisure facilities within one inspiring building. Date...



64 Queen Street

0131 464 6100


50 Bell Street
G1 1LQ

0141 333 3920


Second Floor
37 Alfred Place
London WC1E 7DP

0207 580 5330


3A, 54 Princess Street
M1 6HS

0161 200 6300