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Conference Programme 2023


Sustainable Estate

14 Nov 2023
Stage 1

Integrated Green Infrastructure for school grounds: nature based solutions
Felicity Steers, Director, Erz Landscape Architects

The need to deliver biodiversity net gain and climate change mitigation is an opportunity to reimagine school grounds. Bringing a nature-based and systems led approach to school ground design greatly enhances the learning environment whilst ensuring that school design teams are delivering on policy and planning legislation. The Building with Nature accreditation is a design standard that can be used to ensure an integrated approach to water management, wildlife and habitat enhancement and placemaking. When combined with imagination and lively educational design the results demonstrate that climate change mitigation can be a positive thing for our school communities. Case studies include the new Trinity Academy Sports Centre and Frogston Primary School both for CEC.

Special Places for Learning Outdoors
Kath McTaggart, Landscape Architect Associate, BDP

Working with local authorities across Scotland BDP have been able to create a series of healthy outdoor learning environments from Early Years provision through to Primary and Secondary schools using an imaginative approach and a strong sense of place.

We are keen to show that learning environments can be expressed with a local voice and provide experiences that respond to global issues such as climate change. The past few years have provided additional challenges to education and human behaviour - where the importance of outdoor space on the journey to recovery has been recognized. Everyone has reconnected with their own neighbourhoods and we should be creating spaces where local distinctiveness is valued.

Through a series of landscapes from Ayrshire to Fife we have created playgrounds with trails based on nautical maps, outdoor dining on your own private beach, the Daily Mile led through local landmarks and natural play with all the elements to build dens in a new residential development. There have also been bouldering walls based on local geology, enter the school through an archaeological dig and grow your own rhubarb from local heritage sources. This extra attention to detail provides a layer of richness to the learning estate.

Wherever possible we have prioritised new tree planting for carbon capture as well as sustainable urban drainage techniques to provide a setting for learning that is resilient. The aspect of time and landscape cannot be forgotten as it is not a static entity and needs maintenance and nurture to fully realise a sustainable learning estate.

Making these external spaces attractive and easy to access encourages the next generation to make connections with nature that build resilient and caring communities. But it’s also about knowing your area and what makes it special….

QMU Outdoors: Sharing the Learning
Patrick Boxall, Lecturer in Initial Teacher Education, Queen Margaret University & Danny Hunter, Principal Architect , Architecture & Design Scotland

Following on from last years’ presentation, ‘Making a Place for Outdoor Learning’, this presentation will look at progress made over the past 12 months in the creation of the Outdoor Learning Hub on Queen Margaret University’s campus. The construction of the Hub and Discovery Trail is due for completion in May 2023, so this presentation will focus on the journey from inception through to completion and will feature the learning resource video(s) commissioned by Architecture & Design Scotland to share the narrative of the construction of the outdoor learning hub on campus, and to support the usage of the discovery trail.


Heather Claridge, Director of Design - Architecture & Design Scotland
Felicity Steers, Director - Erz Landscape Architects
Kath MacTaggart, Landscape Architect Associate - BDP
Patrick Boxall, Lecturer in Initial Teacher Education - Queen Margaret University
Danny Hunter, Principal Architect - Architecture & Design Scotland
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