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FEATURE FOCUS: SCHOOL MAINTENANCE & DESIGN


lengthy process it is one we deem necessary as it takes into account different access routes across the wider community. We work with local authorities to deliver


educational projects that make a real difference to communities. With children and school pupils spending a significant amount of their time in these learning spaces, it’s essential for us to get the communities involvement from the outset as it gives us a different pair of eyes and can transform the whole design. The level of community involvement has


school, whilst also inhabiting a secure, private single storey element of the campus with its own entrance, car park and south facing courtyard space. There were also new pathways created to retain the physical link between the campus and Inverurie town centre. For us, the Inverurie Community Campus represents another successful community project delivered and it has been a useful facility during the pandemic with its large spaces making it easier to move around in safety.


Reaping the rewards of outdoor spaces Covid-19 has had a marked effect on individual awareness around the importance of outdoor environments. The need for more green open spaces in cities has become increasingly apparent. The changes we are seeing in schools aren’t just exclusive to inside the classroom, but also to the building itself and outdoor areas. Many of the projects we see now are starting to incorporate more natural materials to create a tangible link to the surrounding rural landscapes. Scandinavian and European countries have


been adopting a more seamless approach to outdoor learning. The benefits of outdoor, play- based learning are endless as they guarantee students and parents alike the opportunity to reap the rewards of wonderful green spaces. In response to the Scottish Government’s


increased childcare funding which will now commence in August 2021, we’ve been working on a range of early years projects. These range from designing new-build nurseries to reconfiguring existing facilities to bring them in


line with the latest educational thinking. We are proud to be part of the ongoing and innovative work to put Scotland at the forefront of progressive childcare policies. The outdoor nursery developed in Duthie Park,


Aberdeen, is a great example of these principles. The nursey acts a support unit for a fully outdoor woodland nursery which will be in the parkland. Whilst some may recoil at the thought of not having a conventional classroom, experience from similar projects tells us that teachers and pupils love it as they experience the changing nature of the weather, seasons, flora and fauna firsthand. They have even expressed that they wouldn’t want to return to a traditional classroom setting. The key aim for the nurseries is to enhance


physical as well as emotional wellbeing and social development and is a vital part of Aberdeen’s wider city strategy.


Collaboration is key While all projects are different in their design and needs, they all share one thing in common: collaboration. Collaboration and consultation are key to creating successful learning environments that teachers, governors, students and the wider community love. Although it can often be a


transformed drastically the way in which architects approach the design of education projects. To get it right and truly enrich the lives of the people that use these facilities every day, we work closely alongside stakeholders, such as headteachers, department heads and community representatives, to listen to their needs and understand their vision to create a place that will stand the test of time and echo the school’s ethos.


The end result One of the most rewarding aspects when designing for the community and, in particular, children is the honest feedback you receive. Their feedback is hugely beneficial as it allows us to identify what we did well and where we can improve upon, without trying to decipher any political nuance. It’s an exciting challenge to go back to the drawing board and develop new ideas based around what you feel would benefit the community as a whole. For us architects, it’s a huge privilege to be


shape the future of the next generation through their learning facilities. The end result is undoubtedly the most satisfying part of the process, as you’re able to observe children and staff enjoying their new facilities and proudly showing people around. It’s become evidently clear that schools have become the glue that binds the community together. They are a place for learning, but also pleasure for everyone in society, regardless of age.


June 2021


www.education-today.co.uk 31


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