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New Denholm Primary School.
How it came about and what it will be like..


In April 2006 the village of Denholm suffered the loss of the long established
primary school due to fire.  Scottish Borders Council pledged to provide a new
school for the village and work began to secure the funding, clear the site and
design a new purpose-built facility for the children and wider community of Denholm.

The Education and Lifelong Learning Department of Scottish Borders Council
has developed a detailed design brief for all new Borders’ schools as part of
an assessment programme for the provision of teaching and learning in the
future.  Using this as a starting point, the Architects’ Section of the Council
began working on the project in  October 2006.  One of the first steps was to
engage with the Denholm Users’ Group.  The Group consisted of a selection of
parents, the pre-school leader and the Head Teacher.   Regular meetings were held by the Group and these were attended by the Council’s Architectural Manager, who is the Project Manager for the new school, and by the Council’s Assistant Architectural Manager who is the building’s designer.

The meetings gave the Architect an opportunity to understand the wishes of the Group and for the Group in turn to gain a better understanding of the Council’s School of the Future Model.  The input of the Group members has been fundamental in achieving the final design solution, with changes being made throughout the design process in response to their ideas and suggestions.

The new school is to be built on the existing site and offers the opportunity to improve upon the previous facilities.  The proposed design responds to the topography of the site, the prevailing weather conditions and the multi-purpose / community use of the building.

The Site:

The building has been designed to respond to the natural slope of the site by creating two levels, with the taller assembly hall space placed at the lower level in order to reduce the impact of its roof on the village skyline. The circular classroom wing follows the path of the sun and allows each classroom a share of the natural sunlight.


Separate zones have been created to allow for easier management of the building.  The teaching wing and main pupil areas are situated to the south, while the nursery facility is placed adjacent to the infant classes’ but still allows for separate access for parents during school hours.  The administrative, non-teaching areas are grouped at the front of the building to monitor access.  The community wing is located at the north end of the site, closest to the entrance and the car park to ensure vehicles and pupils are kept as far apart as possible


There will be five classrooms, wrapped around a central library, each with a designated activity area.  The nursery has its own direct access, cloakroom and kitchen facilities.  It also has an office and a separate, segregated external play area.   The new hall includes changing facilities and is adjacent to the dining room and kitchen.

The External spaces:

Children need to use the land around their school during break times and these have been designed to be as safe as possible.  An external hard play area has been included to allow for play in all weathers with external seating for those quieter moments. All vehicular access has been moved to the north of the site, clearly segregating children and vehicles and improving safety.  The existing wooded area and site boundaries will be improved with better planting to increase the bio-diversity of plants and wildlife, providing an opportunity to utilise these areas for outdoor educational activities.

The Building:

As with all new Council properties, the design will have improved standards
of insulation and energy efficient heating and lighting systems to reduce
ongoing revenue costs.  It is intended that the external walls of the building will
use recycled natural stone, hardwood cladding and cement render to respond
to the other buildings in the surrounding area.


Preliminary works will begin in the wooded area to improve this prior to April
2007.  There will also be some additional perimeter planting undertaken at
this time to give these plants an opportunity to become established by the
time the school is ready for occupation.

Main building construction work will commence at the end of Summer 2007 and the school will be ready for occupation in August 2008.

If you would like to view the site plan and the zoning plan for the new village school then click on the links below..

SITE PLAN (Adobe acrobat document - 1.27mb)

ZONING PLAN (Adobe acrobat document - 853kb)

WALKTHROUGH VIDEO (windows media player - 5.3mb) a reduced version for the internet means the quality is not as good as it should be but if you 'squint' your eyes it helps!

Many thanks to the SBC Architects for this information


approach to main entrance


Dining room

gym hall

outside the library

games hall exterior

library exterior

looking out from the library

Copyright 2007 All Rights Reserved.