A highly innovative joint campus shared by Niddrie Mill and St Francis Primary Schools has been acclaimed as ‘the best new mainstream state school building in Scotland’.


Designed by Elder and Cannon Architects and with extensive use of aluminium glazing systems from Technal, the £16m scheme has already won a Glasgow Institute of Architects Design Award for Education.


Developed by PARC – a joint venture between Edinburgh City Council and developer EDI Group – the new school is part of the comprehensive regeneration of the Craigmillar neighbourhood, and is designed to unify two schools from protestant and catholic faiths.


The schools and their nurseries are arranged around a central shared ‘drum’, and occupy separate wings along two streets, which reflect the identity of each school.


The glazing is designed to provide high levels of natural light and ventilation to the teaching areas and into the centre of this deep plan building. This is achieved with large top hung picture windows from Technal’s high performance FXi65 casement range, and Visible Grid and Trame Horizontale curtain walling, which successfully contrast with the red brick cladding.


More than 100 configurations of glazed screens were specified for the project, using different combinations of window and door frames and panel sizes, to meet Secured by Design security requirements, as well as the building’s ventilation strategy and architectural design.


The large format unbroken expanses of glass create a light and transparent feel for the shared entrance foyer, the circulation spaces and dining areas. The addition of timber louvres to the classrooms control glare from the sun, Technal’s PXi doors provide access to the internal courtyards and CD double doors have been used for the main entrances. The systems were fabricated and installed by Solaglas, and were all finished in dark metallic grey.


The classrooms are grouped in clusters with triangular landscaped courtyards, and corridors have almost been eliminated, creating teaching spaces that flow into one another. The building has striking views across to the Firth of Forth and Arthur’s Seat – Edinburgh’s urban ‘mountain’ – on one side, and the Pentland Hills and Craigmillar Castle on the other.


Stephen Hoey, Project Architect of Elder and Cannon Architects said, “We have worked extensively with Technal on a number of projects. In our view, their systems provided the very best value for this project and enabled us to successfully achieve the balance of aesthetics, quality and performance, and with all the low maintenance and longevity advantages of aluminium.”


“This school building is at the very heart of the Craigmillar community and is key to the regeneration of the area over the next decade. The simplicity of the campus layout is designed to encourage sociability, to maximise playground and sports spaces and to create highly flexible teaching accommodation.”


Technal’s FXi casement window suite is available in three module sizes – 46mm, 52mm and 65mm. The FXi65 option incorporates a highly efficient 19mm flush polyamide thermal break and innovative gasket detailing for enhanced thermal performance and improved aesthetics. The system accommodates 17mm to 48mm glazing and its design allows more economical glass specifications to be used, whilst still delivering the targeted U value.


The FXi65 profiles are subtly curved for a more contemporary appearance, and optional curved or angled beading can be specified for further visual appeal, both internally and externally. A balcony door option is also available in the FXi range to complement the windows.


The facilities for 700 pupils include a shared assembly hall and gymnasium which can be transformed into a venue for sports, drama and community use; multi-purpose art rooms leading onto a roof terrace, sensory garden, library, computer suite, outdoor playground, all-weather sports pitches, shared dining area and two floors of classrooms for each school.


Client: PARC Craigmillar
Main contractor: BAM
Architects: Elder and Cannon Architects           
M&E consultants: KJ Tait
Structural engineer: Grongmij
Glazing systems: Technal
Glazing fabricator: Solaglas
Project Name: Niddrie Mill and St Francis Primary Schools
Project Location: Craigmillar, Edinburgh

Niddrie Mill and St Francis Primary Schools, Scotland


Niddrie Mill and St Francis Primary Schools, Scotland


Niddrie Mill and St Francis Primary Schools, Scotland