Sheppard Robson submits plans for 2,500-pupil school campus in East Ayshire, Scotland

30th January 2017

Sheppard Robson has submitted plans to East Ayrshire Council for the 23,000mKnockroon Learning and Enterprise Campus, one of the most innovative and exciting school projects to be procured in Scotland in recent years.

The school will house 2,500 students and 300 staff. The student facilities include a secondary school (for 1,633 pupils), a primary school (517 pupils), a nursery (240 children), an 80-place supported learning centre and 30 additional places for students with special educational requirements.

Situated on a 19.8 hectare, urban fringe site – the school consolidates five disparate schools into one campus, creating a centre for education for the towns of Cumnock and neighbouring Auchinleck.

Rupert Goddard, partner at Sheppard Robson, said

“The designs are a result of extensive consultation with all stakeholders, including five head teachers, staff, pupils at all levels and the local community and stakeholders.”

“It is this level of understanding that has allowed us to co-locate these schools, sharing resources amongst different age-groups as well as opening-up these facilities to the public, with an emphasis on creating sporting, enterprise and artistic resources for the community.”

The building has been conceived and organised as four linked structures, with three school pavilions and sports centre. Set on a radial geometry, the design approach helps to break down the overall mass of the building – which is formed of 2 two-storey and 2 three-storey structures – minimising the visual impact of the facility and giving each element of the school its own identity. Positioned within a parkland setting, the running track has been retained on site and upgraded, and public access has been maintained around the site and along the riverside.

The connected elements build upon innovative approaches to learning that the practice has developed over many years, including recent work with the Liverpool City Council. This approach creates an economic and adaptive shell into which different learning and social spaces can be configured. Each of the pavilions feature perimeter classrooms arranged around central atria which form “Learning Plazas.” The latter are dynamic gathering spaces that provide an environment for large group activities, social uses and flexible learning. 

Externally the design of the building has been carefully considered to provide a development which is sympathetic to the largely residential context. The articulation of each block, through the pitched roof profile, helps to break down the mass of each pavilion further. Different punched window expressions helps to reinforce the individual use of each block, providing a subtle variation across the facades while maximising the use of standardised components. External spaces and surrounding infrastructure have also been carefully considered in terms of the parkland setting and existing landscape features, with accessibility and enhancement of provision being key considerations in terms of the developed scheme.

A significant proportion of the building’s energy is generated by onsite renewables, including photovoltaics positioned on the building’s roof and provision of bio-mass heating system. The positioning of the bio-mass heating system within the site allows the creation of a district heating network, and work is in development with neighbouring leisure facilities to enable connections. A mixed-mode ventilation system allows the building to be naturally ventilated in summer and for the interior spaces to be efficiently heated through mechanical heat recovery in the winter. To complement the active sustainable design features, passive design strategies have also been incorporated, including a high-performance thermal envelope and naturally-lit central atria.

The project is anticipated to start on-site in summer 2017, with the building completing in time for the start of the 2019 academic school year.