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Stallan-Brand completes dramatic primary school in the Scottish Borders


The design stretches a run of pitched roof forms which double as canopies for outdoor learning

Broomlands – Kelso’s only primary school – is situated in a wooded area to the north of the town, close to the River Tweed, on the edge of an expansive grass plain sheltered by tall trees and residential development.

Stallan-Brand’s designed focused on ensuring students and staff could make full use of this grassed area by situating the new building centrally on the site and providing a landscaping proposal.

Visually, this was driven by ‘local influence and a vernacular architecture’. As brick is not a traditional material in the Scottish Borders, the firm used cobalt stone, mined from a local quarry in Blinkbonny, and then placed in gabion baskets, to ‘root’ the building in the landscape. 

AJ Broomlands Interior 01

Broomlands Primary School by Stalland-Brand

The form of the roof was inspired by the traditional pitched roofs that define the high streets across the Scottish Borders. They serve both to create a recognisable form and provide sheltered canopies for outdoor learning spaces, onto which each classroom opens out.

Internally, the classrooms are arranged to break out into a central atrium where collective play and interactive learning is encouraged. At the request of the client, none of the classrooms have doors, so the spaces have been designed to accommodate a variety of activities, from quiet reading to crafts and games. 

AJ Broomlands Axo

Broomlands Primary School by Stalland-Brand

Project data

Start on site October 2016
Completion January 2018
Gross internal floor area 2,659m²
Form of contract or procurement route Single stage Design & Build
Construction cost £8 million
Construction cost per m² £3,000
Architect Stallan‐Brand
Client Scottish Borders Council
Structural engineer Goodsons Associates
M&E consultant Davie + McCulloch
Quantity surveyor/cost consultant Thomson Gray
Project manager Turner & Townsend
CDM coordinator Thomson Gray
Main contractor McLaughlin & Harvey
CAD software used Autodesk Revit Level 2
Annual CO2 emissions 10.8kg/m²


Readers' comments (7)

  • A striking school Paul, not sure about the canopies for outdoor learning but a very interesting building nonetheless.

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  • Nice building, but why is the playground so bleak? We know better these days. The internal learning environment is only part of a child's development.

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  • The cantilevered roofs (together with the grand gabion wall flanked ceremonial flight of steps) look more aggressive than sheltering - surely not what you'd expect of a primary school.
    But could this be the birth of another fad, when you look at the even more dramatic and threatening roof suggested by Fletcher Priest for a key building in their masterplan for a new 'business community' being promoted by St John's College on the northern fringes of Oxford? (AJ 29th June)

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  • We are so fortunate to live in a country so prosperous as to be able to waste public money on wholly impractical architectural vanity projects.

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  • Hang on.... those canopies offer no shelter for outdoor learning!!!! who´s kidding whom?

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  • The article indicates a cost of £8million. After a little clicking around and it appears to be £9.7million.
    Oh Well!! The taxpayers won't notice such a pittance.

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  • It's a very nice building, however, rain doesn't fall vertically anywhere on these islands so those projecting canopies will not allow for much protection from inclement weather, and although dramatic and enjoyable, the gabion walls, stark detailing, protecting angular roofs along with the angular zig-zag type ID elements etc. lead to an architecture more akin to a science museum or electricity company HQ. A welcoming, warm, daytime home for children it is not.

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