Mauchline Primary School designed by Archial Architects, one of the largest architecture practices in Scotland and the UK, has been shortlisted for a prestigious BCSE (British Council for School Environments) Award.

This £8m primary school project involved the refurbishment, revitalisation and extension of an existing, largely Edwardian building, together with a significant new extension. The existing building occupied a prominent site in the centre of Mauchline, an historic Ayrshire village with strong connections to the poet Robert Burns, who composed many of his most famous works there.

The school is located immediately adjacent to ‘The Loan’, an area of ground which was the former ‘village green’ and, unfortunately, also a place of execution for several members of the Covenanters’ movement in the 1680’s.

Kevin Cooper, director at Archial Architects, said, “The architecture of this historic village provides a vernacular context which demanded a sensitive response, particularly in terms of the new building’s scale, setting and the relationship between old and new.”

The existing building was previously in very poor condition and took the form of a ‘doughnut’ of classroom accommodation arranged around a series of small, largely dilapidated external courtyards. As with many buildings of this vintage, it suffered from a series of generally incongruous additions and internal reconfigurations over several years, resulting in a relatively inflexible layout, poor relationships between certain internal spaces, and an unobtrusive and poorly located front entrance.

“Our strategy was to provide the revitalised building with a simple, coherent and legible concept,” said Mr Cooper

“The existing ‘doughnut’ of classrooms have been retained and upgraded, whilst the centrally located courtyards have been removed and replaced with a new steel structure incorporating a top-lit, bright, airy and highly flexible space that has been designed to be the new and vibrant educational heart of the school.

“In addition, the old gym has been converted into two further classrooms, allowing the new gym to be located in a substantial new build extension, which also incorporates the dining area immediately adjacent to the gym in order to create the potential for one large, truly flexible space. This space becomes the central area around which all of the other more ‘public’ parts of the building are located, including the administration offices, medical suites, staff areas and changing rooms. The kitchen and nursery are also located in this new extension.

“In this way, a clarity of diagram is achieved with the older part of the building containing all of the pupil classrooms, cloak areas and activity zones, whilst the large new extension incorporates all of the more community related parts of the school within a carefully manipulated external envelope.

“The main entrance is then logically and functionally located between the two parts of the building, between the old and the new, its location further defined by a new entry axis enhanced by landscaping, linear lighting and the introduction of a new entry portal within which have been sited two historic plaques relating to the historic importance of The Loan.”

Mauchline Primary School is part of the £70 million East Ayrshire Schools PPP project encompassing four schools delivered by the First Class Consortium, led by German contractor Hochtief, Barr Construction and McLaughlin and Harvey.

The British Council for School Environments (BCSE) is the UK’s leading charity in education, design and construction. It is unique in that it is an educational charity and membership organisation made up of schools, local authorities, and companies.



For further information please contact:

Kevin Cooper T: 0141 204 6500

Issued on behalf of Archial Group Plc by Liquorice Media tel 0141 561 4018

Date 26th May 2010


Contact: Susan Christie
Phone: 0141 561 4018