In November 2017, work started on planning for a new building to replace the current Castlebrae High School. With a rising roll and a projection for a much-increased student population over the next 10 years, approval was given to develop a new facility that provides an exciting, inspirational and creative learning hub for the community.
The design process involved extensive consultation with the Castlebrae Community. With Hub South East managing the project, Initial input from the Space Strategies team of designers enabled a brief that captured the Castlebrae vision of an environment that would build on an existing collaborative ethos, fostering and developing partnerships through design of spaces to transform learning and teaching. This Space Strategies Design Brief was then handed over to the Architects (JM Architects) and the construction team (Morrison Construction) who worked together to ensure the design of the building meets the expectation of providing an inspirational resource for the community. With Project Managers Currie and Brown, Landscape Architects Wardell Armstrong, Interior Designers Space Zero, Engineers Woolgar Hunter & Ramboll as key partners, the consultation and discussions continued apace as the building and its environment took shape. Construction is now ongoing with the building due to be completed early 2022.
The plans for the new building took shape with the team involved working very closely together from the early stages of the draft proposal, ensuring a shared and common goal to fulfil the Design Brief. There were approximately 50 different workshops and meetings to engage the community in the process and to influence the design. There were also a number of visits to other new school builds across the country to see how the design of learning environments is impacting positively on communities. These visits have provided much inspiration for the new Castlebrae, having been shown around fantastic buildings such as Garnock Campus and Waid Academy. With Community engagement a key aspect of how the vision for the building has being realised, there are spaces designed to invite people in, to share in learning experiences and to benefit from the outstanding facilities available.
Replacement Castlebrae – Our Vision and Values for Learning
Consultation with the Community at Castlebrae and consideration of how to take forward the existing vision and values of the school have resulted in a design brief that outlines a building to embrace a collaborative learning ethos.
Reviewing the existing curriculum and transposing this to a learning community with a roll of 700 presents a unique opportunity to take forward the innovative practice that a smaller roll has enabled over more recent years. With partnerships at the core of curriculum development, the design of the building will foster and support collaboration, developing and enhancing the capacity to improve attainment and achievement.
The Design Brief details a curriculum vision for three main areas of learning (Hubs), which merge faculties in spaces, supporting collaborative learning across the curriculum. An important feature of this vision is the inclusion of larger collaborative areas (Learning Plazas) with each of the three curricular hubs having access to these areas. It is vital that these spaces are used creatively and efficiently, as a natural component of the collaborative vision. The aim of these spaces is for them to be integral to the learning environment and not an ‘add-on’ to more traditional forms of learning. With each curricular Hub having a Learning Plaza, it will provide an opportunity for staff to plan innovative and creative learning experiences together, to further develop and apply skills for learning, life and work in different contexts for the young people.
Traditional timetabling methods will adapt and work with the learning spaces, enabling the Learning Hubs to have increased flexibility, empowering curricular areas with the ability to define how the space in their areas is used most creatively.
Just as important as the design of internal space is the consideration given to how external space will be used. There is a large area of land (as can be seen on the site plan) which will work to further enhance opportunities for creative learning and teaching, as well as providing social areas and facilities for leisure and recreation. With support from the City of Edinburgh Outdoor Learning Team and through extensive engagement with young people at Castlebrae, Landscape Architects Wardell Armstrong have created a plan where the relationship between the interior and exterior of the building is crucial; developing a holistic approach to improve the learning, attainment and health and wellbeing of the community.