At ease…

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A NEW school in Peebles has been praised for its light, relaxing atmosphere after winning a prestigious award for its Edinburgh-based architects.

Archial, which was commissioned by Scottish Borders Council to design the £8.5million Kingsland Primary, received the accolade of Building of the Year at the Edinburgh Architectural Association (EAA) awards, in the city’s Balmoral Hotel last week.

A total of 24 entries were submitted, from which 12 projects were shortlisted for the top prize. Each was visited by the EAA judging panel in February.

Kingsland, pictured right, which accommodates more than 400 staff and pupils and contains 14 classrooms and a nursery, opened last year at Neidpath Grazings on the western outskirts of Peebles, sitting in the side of a hill above the Tweed. The site was deemed too prominent by many objectors when it was first allocated for the school, a replacement for the previous Kinsgland in Rosetta Road.

The EAA judges acknowledged the successful incorporation of indoor and outdoor spaces into the design, creating “a stimulating environment for teachers and pupils that noticeably enhances learning and well-being”.

Archial director Mark Fresson, said: “When it comes to schools, the architectural profession is often guilty of repeating mistakes made by the Victorians; some schools are still designed with windows that are placed so that younger pupils simply cannot see out.

“Kingsland, by contrast, benefits from full height glazing so pupils can enjoy the connection with the outside world. In keeping with this ethos, the building, where possible, is domestic in scale and height, creating an environment that is not intimidating to small children”.

Kingsland head teacher Jaqueline Wilson said her school community was “absolutely delighted” with the award.

“Kingsland provides pupils and staff with a bright, airy working environment,” said Mrs Wilson. “All classrooms and work spaces have floor-to-ceiling windows with beautiful views of the surrounding area. This is a stimulus for all aspects of the curriculum, particularly written work where there is an immediate stimulus for personal descriptive writing.

“As children can see colour around them as well as tones of light and shade, the possibilities for artwork are numerous. Watching the changing seasons is a crucial part of the primary school curriculum.”

“The range of teaching spaces caters for the development of all children with a range of needs. The sense of light and space adds to the calm ethos of the school which is regularly commented on. The school has a good reputation within the community and now has a building to match that.

“Attainment and achievement in the school has been enhanced as all of the stakeholders have pride and confidence in this 21st century building.”

Robert Black of the EAA commented: “Yet again, there was an extremely high standard of entries, despite the difficult times for the construction industry. It was a real pleasure to visit buildings with such a high level of design that are clearly enjoyed and appreciated by owners and users.”