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John Martin Building

John Martin Building

George Watson’s College Junior School sits within the senior school campus and needed space to grow. Although it had its own buildings and play areas it lacked a clear sense of arrival. The project brief for additional teaching space, reception and entrance was a chance to strengthen its identity within the wider campus. The new extension holds a prominent position on the edge of the campus and creates a friendlier face and gateway to the junior school.

A landscaped path leads to the new entrance elevation, clad in blonde sandstone, providing a low maintenance, hard wearing and civic appearance. A new ramped entrance route maximises accessibility and makes the most of the southern aspect, with integrated stepped timber seating that can be used as an outdoor classroom. The accommodation includes offices; music classrooms; new build classrooms and the adaptive reuse of existing classrooms.

Traditional class bases are supported by innovative and adaptable areas to encourage social learning, including an open plan library, learning forum, tiered seating area and outdoor teaching space. Throughout the design process the brief evolved in response to the school’s needs. We engaged in a consultation process with the school steering group, teachers, pupils and neighbours in order to understand the needs, constraints and overall aspirations of the project and existing masterplan. Aided by a series of models, these workshops helped us develop a creative and sensitive solution that fulfilled the school’s objectives whilst allaying concerns from neighbouring residents.

Our design focused on providing open plan areas to support collaborative, social and interactive pedagogical approaches that provoke discussion and promote the exchange of knowledge. The new layout has a series of spaces designed to suit small, medium and large groups both inside and outside of the classroom. Spaces are planned to support mobility and adapt to different activities and needs and to be easily managed. Departments are distinguished through different colour schemes and activity areas are delineated with distinctive colours and texture. By adapting the west wing of the existing building, the project saves embodied carbon and improves the performance of the existing spaces.

Classrooms and offices are orientated north to take advantage of natural light while minimising solar gain. The south-facing reception area is protected by an overhanging upper floor and a canopy provides shade to the library. The project has transformed the sense of arrival and provides modern learning spaces that enhance the existing facilities.

PROJECT: John Martin Building
LOCATION: George Watson's College
CLIENT: The Merchant Company Education Board
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: David Narro Associates
SERVICES ENGINEER: Henderson Warnock
PROJECT MANAGER: David Hood Consulting
John Martin Building
John Martin Building
John Martin Building

John Martin Building
Photographer:  McAleer

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