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Learning Places Scotland 2021 - Articles

24 Nov 2021

Inclusive Growth - Day 2

Inclusive Growth

The theme of this session was “inclusive growth” which included two presentations. The first discussed Ayr Grammar Primary School’s role in regenerating Ayr’s historic town, presented by BDP Architects and South Ayrshire Council. The second reviewed how the built environment, particularly an academic setting, can play a role in long term health and well-being. This was presented by a representative from C.F.Møller Architects in Copenhagen.

Education Led Mixed-use Regeneration in a Historic Setting

The “death of the High Street” started prior to Covid-19, and unfortunately Ayr’s town centre has been experiencing just that – and has been exacerbated by the pandemic. As part of a wide strategy for Ayr is a goal to regenerate, repurpose and reinvigorate their town centre through place planning. Part of the solution to this was refurbishing and transforming Ayr Academy’s former premises into Ayr Grammar Primary School. As well as providing early years and primary facilities, it also houses a community arts centre, registrar and archive facility. As a historic listed building in Ayr’s town centre, this required a sensitive approach being taken when redesigning the infrastructure. It was important to not dramatically change the existing fabric, but instead maximise and celebrate its potential. An aim within this project was to create a community element which would provide the opportunity to engage in lifelong learning: a true cradle-to-grave learning experience on one site. Throughout the entire renovation it was important to retain as much of the existing fabric as possible. For instance, stonework was cleaned and repaired, timber panelling and tiles were refurbished generating a sense of warmth, use of the tall ceilings meant large windows could allow natural daylight to enter with views of the River Ayr. Renewing existing stock to improve building performance through updating the fabric is a testament to sustainability.

Shaping Learning Places: Food and Urban Context

An estimated one third of 11 year olds, worldwide, are currently at risk of obesity. Tackling this from an early age to adopt healthy lifestyles and lead by example will be key to the longevity and quality of life of future generations. Therefore to sustain this with regard to health, learning facilities and recreational spaces are critical.

In 2018, C.F.Møller Architects won a competition which led to the development and delivery of New Islands Brygge School – close to Copenhagen’s city centre – that opened earlier this year. This establishment is for middle school pupils, so early adolescence, and has shaped its learning environment and curriculum to build positive relationships with place, food and healthy lifestyle choices. One side of the school has green spaces, and the other has more industrial and domestic spaces. Having these views of nature provides an opportunity to develop biodiversity and encourage exercise and play onsite. The school’s interior and exterior were designed to be in close contact with each other, with every class having direct access to the rooftop landscape which houses the playground. The roof has been used extensively for not only physical activity and play, but also as a learning environment and urban garden. Learners can see the circle of life first-hand: they can learn the theory behind healthy eating and the science of growing and cooking crops through physics, chemistry and biology. Subsequently, they can apply this theory to practical work where they can gain life skills as they grow, nurture, harvest, cook and eat the food.

Inclusive growth is closely interlinked with community and quality of life. Both projects recognised this and took perceived challenges as an opportunity, acting as a catalyst for addressing societal issues.


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