James Gillespie’s Campus

A new-build secondary school and nursery, with extension and refurbishment to an existing primary school building. The 3.7ha city centre site occupies the grounds of the Grade A listed Bruntsfield house.




The City of Edinburgh Council



James Gillespie’s Campus is located in Marchmont, Edinburgh, within the listed boundary walls of Bruntsfield House, a Grade A listed structure. The site occupies approximately 3.7 hectares and the campus provides educational, sports, leisure and community facilities. Given the sensitive location and specific client requirements, we undertook extensive consultation with community groups, historic societies and the community council at a very early stage to ensure that all concerns were addressed. We also developed a 12-stage decant process that retained all teaching environments on site throughout construction and minimised the need for any temporary accommodation.

The campus incorporates five new buildings arranged to relate to the centrally positioned listed building and the surrounding context. The buildings vary from single storey to three storey, and each building’s arrangement is unique to its location in the site. The High School campus comprises Bruntsfield House, a teaching building with integral main entrance, a performance / assembly building and a sports block. The works to the Primary integrates two classrooms on the first floor and an Assembly / Gym building at the core of the Primary School building, with a new Nursery at the primary school’s entrance point.

The development of the school has seen the improvement of accessibility, security and circulation. By maximising the usability of internal and external spaces the design has created transformational teaching spaces which support current teaching techniques but will also be able to adapt to meet the requirements of the pedagogical approaches of the future. Four collaborative spaces within the Teaching Block have been developed to support each of the main curriculum groupings. The Performance Building offers a practical range of settings for various assembly and performance uses and the Sports Pavilion provides regional standard sports training facilities including a dance studio, fitness room, physical education teaching room, gymnasium and sports hall with associated dry changing, and a 4 lane swimming pool.

Project gallery

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The Challenge

The brief aspired to the creation of a series of inspirational buildings that provide an asset for the school, as well as the community as a whole. The site itself posed an interesting challenge, given its location within the Marchmont Conservation area and the requirement for pupils to remain onsite throughout the project.

The Solution

The new principal buildings offer a specialised environment for formal and informal learning and extra-curricular activities, and accommodate sport and arts events for the community. Implementation was undertaken in a series of phases, ensuring the on-going operation of the primary school and giving consideration to the sensitivity of a site in a residential, city centre location.

The Outcome

This complex project provides an exemplar in the development of educational facilities that reflect the philosophy of the new Curriculum for Excellence, while the architectural response evolves its form and mass from the unique setting of its campus environment.

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