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Morgan Sindall’s Laura Allison describes a school build
which involved multi-stakeholder engagement and a challenging curved design.
We were appointed by North Lanark-shire Council through its
Schools and Centres 21 framework to design and build a new £17m primary school
which would allow two existing schools to come together in a modern, spacious
Split into three phases, the 484-capacity Hilltop Primary
School was delivered as a tandem build, in field space alongside the existing
Dunrobin Primary, to accommodate its pupils and those of the nearby Petersburn
Early and collaborative stakeholder and community engagement
was particularly crucial. We were acutely aware that we, with the council and
the schools, were not only constructing a new building, but a new school, with
an original name, crest, uniform and identity. There was an additional dynamic:
one set of pupils and teachers would be relocating to a site where there was
already an existing cohort.
We worked with all stakeholders to map out potential
sensitivities. Throughout the build process, the site team welcomed both sets
of staff and pupils to see the building take shape, held a joint competition to
design a safety poster, and facilitated a Christmas lights switch-on and carol
concert for families.
The site team also worked with the school to enable pupils
to design their new uniform and crest. As part of this initiative, we provided
every pupil with a new school tie. These softer elements are sometimes glossed
over, but the integration of both school communities in this project really
reinforced their value.
During phase one, we had much more traditional technical
challenges to contend with. The site required mine shaft exploration and
remediation – a first for a project I had managed. We found an unrecorded shaft
during this process and treated it, then grouted the full footprint of the
The campus features 16 teaching spaces, eight language and
comm-unication support bases and three multi-purpose rooms, along with a
separate gym and dining areas. A two-storey 463sq m cylindrical hall is the
most striking element of the design.
We chose Parklex wood cladding for the envelope, both for
its thermal properties to support the scheme’s BREAM Very Good rating and to
provide a natural aesthetic. These were glued in addition to secret fix
Building to a curve presented several challenges.
Internally, it required suspended ceilings, with each room having slightly
different dimensions. With natural lighting prioritised, we designed and built
four roof lights and light wells in the roof which extended to the ground
floor. The positioning of the windows was modelled to allow light to come
through at the correct angle.
The new campus has been up and running since the handover of
phase one last summer. We have been completing the demolition of the old
building and installation of a new 3G sports pitch as part of phases two and
three in the months which followed.
It’s been gratifying to see the school community form and
the work we’ve done alongside the build itself pay off. The project is one I’m
incredibly proud to have been involved with and a testament to the merits of
early stakeholder engagement.
Laura Allison is a project manager with Morgan Sindall