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Edinburgh school extension programme comes under fire

January 7 2013

Edinburgh school extension programme comes under fire
A scheme to extend four existing primary schools in Edinburgh using a modular, prefabricated building system has come under fire from architects for eschewing design flair for economics and standardisation.

The plans, which were submitted over the holiday period, affect Trinity, Wardie, Victoria and Granton Primaries which will each gain a new Aedas penned classroom extension.

One campaigner told Urban Realm:  “This will be the first wave of school extensions which are being rolled out to cope with rising rolls.  Designed in contravention of Scottish Government guidelines (the excellent Building Better Schools) which stipulate that the emphasis of new school building should be on innovation and personalisation rather than on standardisation, the brief for these new buildings prioritise speed and ease of construction. 

“Sites are chosen where contractor's access is easiest rather than to suit school circulation or passive solar benefits. There is no attempt at school participation, holistic design, greenness, innovation or meeting the ambitions of the Curriculum For Excellence.

“Anyone with an interest in the fine and varied school estate in Edinburgh is encouraged to make comments.  The Council’s Children and Families Department has deliberately submitted this a week before Christmas in order to reduce the number of objections it receives as it knows that school offices will be closed and parents busy. “

In their design statement for Trinity Primary Aedas said: “The design challenge for the rising rolls project has been to produce a prototype unit that can be constructed within the tight timeframe of the school holidays.

“The units apply similar details and external materials for ease of construction and procurement but allow for school specific colours to be applied.”

Public comments on the scheme must be made by 14 January.


#1 Posted by Tcg on 7 Jan 2013 at 19:32 PM
Without wanting to let the facts get in the way of a good controversy, if you actually look at the four applications, for standardised designs there isn't actually that much standardisation. There are actually a number of different modules used.
Bill "Sarcastic" Simpson
#2 Posted by Bill "Sarcastic" Simpson on 9 Jan 2013 at 10:17 AM
I'm not sure what I love most about this scheme; the awe inspiring colours which raise the pupils hopes for subtle intellectual stimulus, the creative form-making which is a inspired and contemporary version of the beautiful surroundings, or the ballsy confidence in ignoring everything around it to offer a cheap and easy solution.

I wonder whether it was the School Trust who determined the brief and budget?

PS, I also love the SU visuals with no scale and context. That completes my love affair for this project.
Peter Wilson
#3 Posted by Peter Wilson on 9 Jan 2013 at 11:33 AM
This has to be a sick joke - Wardie Primary is one of the finest 1930's school buildings in the country and the attractions of its child-friendly scale and courtyard architecture are among the strong reasons why its roll has been rising over many years. Extending the building in the way proposed is not only unnecessarily crude, it is architecturally illiterate. Once again, no doubt, unsatisfactory procurement methods will be the argument put to justify the solution, but this 'design' can really only be viewed as a catastrophic failure of architectural intention. If this is the best the profession can offer to the future education needs of Scotland's children then it's clearly in serious crisis and in need of radical restructuring if it is to survive the current downturn with any credibility left.

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