Niddrie Mill and St Francis Primary Schools, Edinburgh

Architect: Elder & Cannon Architects
Main Contractor: BAM
Fabricator: Solaglas
Award: Glasgow Institute of Architects Design Award for Education
Products: Visible Grid and Trame Horizontale curtain walling; FXi65 casement windows; CD and PXi doors

The innovative joint campus shared by Niddrie Mill and St Francis Primary Schools, and using Technal glazing systems, has been acclaimed as ‘the best new mainstream state school building in Scotland’.

The £16m scheme, which has already won a Glasgow Institute of Architects Design Award for Education, was 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 was designed to unify two schools from protestant and catholic faiths.



Over 100 Different Glazing Configurations

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

More than 100 configurations of glazed screens were specified, 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, PXi doors provide access to the internal courtyards and CD double doors have been used for the main entrances. The systems were all finished in dark metallic grey.

School Design

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 classrooms are grouped in clusters with triangular landscaped courtyards, and corridors have almost been eliminated, creating teaching spaces that flow into one another.

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.



The Architect’s Perspective

Stephen Hoey, Project Architect, Elder and Cannon Architects:

“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.”