Wallyford Primary School

The £18m Wallyford Primary School is one of the largest primary schools in Scotland. The new building provides 28 classrooms, as well as a further four nursery classes. Together with the recently completed Wallyford Learning Campus – another jmarchitects project – the buildings are a key part of the new village centre, positioned in the heart of the community.

Date

2019

Client

Hub South East / East Lothian Council / Morrison Construction

Value

£18.9m

Working closely with East Lothian Council, jmarchitects were commissioned to assist in stakeholder consultation and the development of the brief and aspirations for the project. This direct relationship created an output which provided a framework, direction and aspiration for the project. jmarchitects were then appointed via Hub South East as lead design consultant, working alongside Morrison Construction, Wardell Armstrong and RSP Consulting Engineers.

The site for the project is located at the southern edge of the existing village. It forms part of a wider masterplan to develop the farmland between Wallyford and the A1. The school replaces the existing Wallyford Primary and will serve Wallyford and the new St Clements Wells masterplan for 1400 new homes. A phased build out of the masterplan housing required that the school can be extended in the future; this has been a key consideration through the development of teaching model. The pupil roll in phase 1 is 826 pupils with 28 classrooms expanding to 1194 pupils with 41 classrooms in phase 2.

The proposals are driven by the quality of the pupil experience. Due to the large size of the school, and a desire to break this down into smaller spaces, year groups are arranged in clusters around courtyards or top lit breakout spaces to create schools within a larger school. The clusters are linked together via a central roof-lit street creating a ‘social spine’ to the design, which is predicated on dining and links to the other core accommodation of the brief. These core accommodation spaces are double height and give a sense of hierarchy through the school and provide a counterbalance to the teaching clusters. The courtyards provide sheltered spaces for outdoor learning and play accessed directly from classrooms and breakout spaces.

The organisation of the accommodation has created a layered arrangement of spaces: public, invited and private, thereby allowing the school to be an integral part of the community whilst maintaining control of access. The positioning of core accommodation community spaces off the spine has also become an integral part of the connections within the building. The ‘street’ becomes both the heart of the school and the connection out to the surrounding landscape and wider community. The brick specified was chosen for its similarity to those produced at the former Wallyford brickworks, complimenting the timber cladding and the fibre cement clad games hall which will form a marker at the beginning of the new local centre.

Project gallery

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The Challenge

To create a new build school with a roll of 826 pupils, one of the largest primary schools in Scotland, on a site that, as part of a new residential masterplan, has minimal context to relate to and no existing school to refer to as a precedent whilst also being of appropriate scale for primary age pupils.

The Solution

We worked in close consultation with the local authority to develop a design that focuses on the pupil experience by creating classroom “clusters” open to breakout spaces and external courtyard teaching spaces that has essentially created 3 small schools within the large building. Research was also carried out on the local architectural history, resulting in the building being built with a brick that resembles the bricks that were previously manufactured close to the site.

The Outcome

The completed building delivers a unique, brightly daylit, uplifting modern learning environment capable of accommodating a variety of learning and teaching settings – effortlessly and flexibly. The courtyard spaces within the plan form create unique external teaching spaces, enhancing the transition between the internal and external environment in an incredibly secure way offering young learners free flow independent external access with minimal supervision.

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