Supporting young people and their career aspirations at all levels
Levenmouth Campus answers the call for an innovative yet simple campus with a STEM focus, recognising the importance of better skills for the local community, to promote and offer skills pathways for future jobs.
Paving the way for cultural change, the new campus merges the existing Buckhaven High School with Kirkland High School and Community College. Sitting alongside a new Fife College building, the campus provides an environmentally friendly solution to the brief.
Community engagement was vital to the success of the project, introducing integrated curriculum opportunities to help young people coming through secondary school on the same campus.
Connecting the school back to the local community
Sitting in the shadow of large scale engineering plants, the local education was unable to provide the community with the necessary skills required to work in that industry.
Fife College in partnership with Fife Council, formed a strategic framework to improve the standard of education in Methil and Buckhaven, through the creation of a new education campus.
Integral to the ethos of the new school was the ambition to build on the established reputation and history of the old schools, but moving forward with a new joint identity and a building that the community deserved.
This provided an opportunity to pilot a new model of integrated secondary education, with further education, and providing greater employability for students and local businesses.
Driven by a desire to re-engage with the local community, we undertook detailed consultation. The project involved the merger of two very different and separate secondary schools, with long term historic rivalries. We brought all stakeholders together to create positive relationship between the schools and communities, showing the benefits to be gained from a new joint learning campus.
Bringing together the school and wider community
Built on the existing Buckhaven site, as a tandem build, extensive external works had to be undertaken to prepare the poor ground conditions. The design also had to increase the playing fields area, on the relatively tight site, whilst maintaining the original building footprint.
The mix of modern rainscreen cladding and full height glazing with traditional brick elements, references Methil and Buckhaven’s ‘Methil brick’ industry.
A double height social space is the ‘heart’ of the school and provides a focal point for access, interaction, dining and navigation. Visible on approach, with bridges across voids and glazed balustrades, the space celebrates the schools open ethos and maximises natural light.
The design supports multifunctional use of key areas; the dining area opens directly onto social space allowing for a myriad of functions to take place, from socialising, to large group gathering, to small study groups and community use.
The engineering workshops and ICT lab provide a realistic work environment for school pupils, as well as practical health and safety awareness, hand skills, problem solving and critical thinking.
The Maths Lab is a completely new innovation, encouraging primary schools to bring younger learners and see students are learning in simulated work environments, and doing ‘real work’.
Community use was integral to the success of the campus. Adult learning and support, the learning resource centre, IT lab and community rooms are prominently placed at the front of the school, directly accessed from the main entrance. Security is ensured by the ability to lock down out of use areas.
A ‘two way street’ learner journey, sharing space between both school and college encourages everyone to make use of the facilities. The ‘street’ leads directly to shared sport facilities, viewing galleries are strategically positioned to look into and overlook sports areas as a source of encouragement and inspiration.
Enhancing the educational experience
The integrated landscape design provides an inside outside connection with a social courtyard at the heart of the campus. With the Levenmouth strategic masterplan in mind, the front elevation has been brought back from the street to create the entrance plaza, connecting both new college and school facilities back to the community.
The external spaces have been designed to blend the building into the natural landscape whilst supporting classroom activities and providing for sport and recreation. Pedestrians are guided towards the building along tree boulevards, native hedge rows and shrub planted beds set within vast open natural landscape. The main entrance on Methilhaven Road is formally landscaped with the use of high quality landscape material whilst being embellished with mature trees creating a public realm frontage to the building.
The grass sports fields merge with playground spaces introducing a strong soft element close to the building. Nearby social spaces provide informal spaces for seating and socialising. Feathered tree planting introduce informal planting arrangements through the grass and bermed shrub planting creating a sculptural effect in the landscape spatially organising the site into outdoor classrooms, art displays and performance zones.
An exemplar of sustainable project delivery
By providing a single, more energy efficient building, we rationalised the school estate footprint, reducing ongoing operating costs. We achieved a ‘Platinum Standard’ sustainability level, measured against Fife Council’s own ‘Sustainability Checklist targets and aspirations, with core hour energy use (57 kWh/m2) considerably less than the requirements Scottish Government’s target of 67 kWh/ m2.
Levenmouth, K78 1EA
Fife’s Sustainably Checklist Platinum Standard
1,800 pupil spaces
Making Space Learning Award 2016 Shortlisted
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