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Learning Places Scotland 2021 - Articles

23 Nov 2021

Sustainable - Day 1

Sustainable Estate

The theme of this session was the “sustainable estate” which included two presentations. The first discussed East Ayrshire Council’s Barony Campus Project, presented by representatives from Sheppard Robson Architects, East Ayrshire Council and Morrison Construction. The second presentation was on the Dunfermline Learning Community Campus presented by representatives from Fife Council.

The Barony Campus Project

Through the decline in mining and rural employment in recent decades, the Cumnock and Auchinleck areas in East Ayrshire have experienced significant challenges with regard to unemployment and deprivation. The £68m Barony Campus – East Ayrshire Council’s biggest capital investment project ever – was a fitting opportunity to create a new beginning through the creation of an inspiring and sustainable learning environment.

Discussions started in 2015 following concerns around condition and suitability of multiple schools in Cumnock and Auchinleck, with work commencing in 2016 and completion in 2020. Barony Campus encompasses early years, primary and secondary education facilities, and additional support needs, sports facilities and shared community spaces. The shared mission between those involved on the project was to adopt a place-based approach to positive change following the Scottish Government’s Creating Places policy. This policy recognises the role good building design has on people and communities.

In the context of environmental sustainability, the project has used a locally supplied biomass heating system saving 1,700 tonnes of CO2 and an annual reduction in fuel costs of £250,000. Additionally, the use of photovoltaic arrays delivers 136kw at peak production which is the equivalent of 15% of the building’s energy load, and enhanced air tightness has improved general running costs. Through close collaboration and engagement with key stakeholders within the community, the project has delivered both social and environmental value through quality placemaking and design principles.

The Dunfermline Learning Community Campus

Similar to Barony Campus, the Dunfermline Learning Community Campus is also an integrated learning campus in Fife, combining two secondary schools and a college. It has a construction cost of £200m and work started earlier this year. The project is due for completion by 2024. Located on a 60-acre site on the outskirts of Fife, it will house approximately 2,700 school pupils and 2,000 college students.

An important objective throughout the design process was to ensure that the campus could maintain and celebrate the individual identities of the overall student body as well as the three individual original facilities. This is a pathfinder project and will deliver community wealth leveraging social, environmental and economic benefits while the physical estate mirrors the learner’s journey. Taking into consideration social and economic benefits, one of five products developed over the last 18 months by the education teams of both Fife Council and Fife College are “learning pathways”. These are signposts which allow young people to journey through school and choose options which may benefit their future career. This is particularly relevant for students who wish to continue in education, but via a more vocational, less traditional route. It will use labour market intelligence to give learners an indication of what skills they can acquire as a result of learning and what careers this may lead to.

A key lesson within this project was that success is based on trust and understanding of how different organisations work to make quality decisions in the best interest of Fife’s young people.

Sustainability has connotations of social value, environmental protection and economic growth – to name just a few. The proposed Scottish 2045 deadline to achieve net zero is fast approaching and must be addressed now, in both new builds and refurbishment projects. Use of appropriate materials to tackle both embodied and operational carbon are crucial, as are providing spaces and places that support community engagement and social value. These are essential if we are to thrive, particularly in a post-pandemic world.

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