Elgin High School

The new build 10,200m² Elgin High School was designed to respond to the Curriculum for Excellence agenda and promotes a progressive culture of learning, enhancing links between the school, local community and external environment.




The Moray Council / Hub North Scotland Ltd.



The plan of the early SFT ‘Superblock’ was used as a precedent for the general floor plan layout and arrangement of the proposed Elgin High School. In the case of the Elgin layout however the internal organisation of the plan has been developed from that of the SFT model to an arrangement which seeks to minimise the number of internal spaces and reflect a very real desire to maximise the levels of natural ventilation and natural daylight within the building. In general massing terms this has resulted in a single bank of rooms along both sides of the plan with all large, multi-use, open plan spaces arranged along a central spin between.

The central atrium space is an integral part of the horizontal circulation through the building. Formed by the assembly hall, dining/social space atrium, feature staircases, breakout and the library this ‘social and learning landscape’ becomes the educational and social heart of the school; an internal landscape which links the internal spaces and connects the building to the external environment.

Due to increased anticipated housing development in the surrounding area, the initial design capacity of 800 pupils was increased during the design process to 1,000 pupils. Our approach to the design of the teaching block ensured that this 25% increase in roll was still achieved within a SFT metric-compliant school for 800 pupils through efficient internal planning and school timetabling.

Both the sports and performance facilities along with a number of teaching spaces are available to the local community, promoting lifelong learning and a healthy lifestyle. Responding to the Council’s vision for an inclusive community school with civic presence, the site was developed to provide an accessible range of spaces and facilities that would enrich the learning and leisure opportunities of the local community and be able to host local gatherings and events.

Through careful programming, informed design development and sensitive integration with the surrounding urban fabric of Elgin, the new school will act as a community hub, enhancing civic pride in the town and providing a place where both children and adults can learn and play.

Project gallery

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The Challenge

The location of the existing school buildings, coupled with challenging ground conditions in other areas of the site required a carefully considered design solution which wouldn’t appear compromised once the existing building was demolished.

The Solution

A series of carefully planned option studies were discussed and developed with the Client and Tier 1 Contractor and ultimately lead to the decision to detach the core teaching and learning and sports functions into two separate blocks. This addressed the challenging site constraints whilst also creating operational opportunities for community use of the facilities.

The Outcome

The decision to create a campus approach to massing at Elgin High School has resulted in the creation of a core teaching and learning block with virtually no internal, un-daylight spaces. All four primary elevations have un-restricted access to daylight if required which when combined with the large rooflights over the central atrium space create a virtually fully natural lit, naturally ventilated building.

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