As part of West Lothian Council’s ambitious schools programme, Collective Architecture, in collaboration with consultants Scott Bennett Associates and EDP Consulting Engineers, has delivered a new purpose-built extension at Toronto Primary School in Livingston.
The expansion and development of the school’s facilities has maintained the unique physical character and immediacy of the school’s grounds and green avenues whilst reinforcing the internal pedestrian street. The existing classrooms are formed around central sunroom clusters, with the central spine knitting together each level and activity zone. The proposed development interlocks with this inner street and in turn provide a new DDA compliant, accessible main entrance to the school.
The development comprises a new monolithic textured precast concrete Games Hall that opens to the school playing fields. The textured concrete band is punctured only at high level by way of a sandblasted pattern across Reglit apertures, conveying the pattern of the surrounding tree lined avenue. The concrete wraps the entire base of the proposed extension, except for the new Main Entrance to the school, which is over-clad in Vitreous Enamel, signifying the school’s branding colour.
The new inner street, which extends the existing corridor, comprises the new Main Office, Head Teacher Office and Assistant Head Teacher Office, as well as Janitor’s Office, Changing Facilities and accessible access to the existing Nursery. The inner street leads from the previous main entrance to the school all the way to the new concrete clad Games Hall, which continues internally. The single storey extension does not touch the double height Games Hall internally, instead this rule is broken by a large glass canopy that separates the concrete cladding to that of the single storey extensions sedum green roof.
Extensive external landscaping and a re-routed vehicular and pedestrian entrance, provide a fully accessible new school entrance, which acts as the heart of the new development. The project also features an external lighting scheme to further enhance the pedestrian spaces and display the bold development in the evening, amidst the tree lined avenue.
Supporting StatementToronto Primary School makes a significant contribution to the local community and sets a high standard for school extensions throughout West Lothian Council, and beyond.
The refurbishment is sensitive to the existing context and scale of the existing school and community but, as exemplified by the strong concrete structure and glazed apertures, is unashamedly bold in its expression of the confidence and commitment enthused by the school and its pupils.
The design and interiors were progressed collaboratively between Toronto Primary School Pupils, Teachers, Parent Teacher Council group and West Lothian Council, led by Collective Architecture. The need to respond to the existing building fabric along with organisational and user needs, and expectations, was an extremely important element in the design.
One key challenge was to interlink the extension to the West of the existing school, whilst ensuring that not only the new build part of the school was fully accessible, but ensuring the existing school was fully Disability Discrimination Act-compliant.
Through a series of workshops with primary 7 pupils, teachers and PTA council representatives, Collective Architecture were able to discuss and encourage design ideas and actively encouraged the pupils to produce annotated and drawn examples of their experience of the school, and their likes and dislikes. Key discussions on how the school would be linked, through a series of internal and external ramps, identified the main design challenges on how to navigate through the school.
The introduction of a safe drop-off point and clearly sign-posted main entrance and lobby were all explored, providing the design team with pivotal ideas to enrich the design palette.
The workshops proved to be successful and in turn created a feature concrete collage within the main entrance foyer, as well as influencing the textured precast panels that over-clad the building envelope (the foliage of the mature trees surrounding the site was identified as a key element from the children’s workshops).
This building, with its new lease of vibrancy and airy extension, has given the community a sense of ownership and pride. The Games Hall is used by local people (out-with school hours), participating in local sporting activities. The active collaboration between the design team, school and the council, certainly enriched the process, which is evident in the bespoke features that form this unique school extension.
Alan Dunlop, co-director of Alan Dunlop Architect, Aberfoyle, Stirling said;
"Much as the original school is clearly influenced by St Bride’s, the new games hall brings to mind Pitsou Kedem’s Lago Events complex in LeZion, Israel, with a similar pared-back and restrained quality, precast concrete and contrasting translucent glass. It is a subtle and well-considered addition to an unremarkable existing building. The architects have sorted out the many planning and level problems and brought quality to an otherwise characterless residential area."