Hillhead Primary School

The design allows the new school to act like a window to the River Kelvin to the south and the landscape of the park to the west, maximising the learning opportunities presented by the unique natural setting.




Glasgow City Council



Our concept developed a building that mediates between the territory of the park and the urbanity of the surrounding neighbourhood. An “urban box” was created to accommodate the dining and games halls, which have the dual purpose of serving the school and community. Set back from the neighbouring building line this urban box edges a civic space including a landmark clock tower. 

Where the building addresses the park, the scale and materiality changes; this is the teaching wing and contains classrooms with large expanses of glass that take in the views of the park. The teaching classrooms gather around a double height, top-lit social area arranged with regimented clarity to emphasise the beauty of the natural surroundings.

A translucent glass clad bridge link links the community building and teaching block and glows in the early morning and evening, making a transient journey between the two territories of the school.

Project gallery

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The Challenge

The new Hillhead Primary School was created to bring together 4 existing primary schools and 2 nursery schools in the West End of Glasgow. All of these schools were Victorian buildings on tight sites within constricted playgrounds, and all had declining pupil numbers.

The Solution

The building is designed to respond to the constraints and strengths of the site. The solution straddles the two contrasting characteristics of the site – the urban front and the garden rear. It locates the teaching spaces in the park to derive maximum learning opportunities presented by the unique natural setting.

The Outcome

The scale and massing of the building’s parts enhance and strengthen the natural and physical qualities of this complex site without compromising the programme for a primary teaching environment. The school enhances the children’s everyday relationship with their community, through the sights and sounds of the environment.

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