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Following Scottish Futures Trust’s initiative to design a reference primary school for Scotland, Walters & Cohen was chosen to build out our proposal for Lairdsland Primary School in Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire.

The new building is for 280 pupils aged 4-11 on a brownfield site adjacent to the Forth and Clyde Canal. The location of the building on the site was explored in consultation with the school community, whose preference was to identify the school with the canal. This resulted in placing the building parallel to the water to make the most of the unique site.

The design of the two-storey school is contemporary to suit a range of teaching and learning styles. Classrooms do not have doors; glazed screens delineate the main classroom, yet the teaching area expands into the heart space that extends the length of the building. Flexible furniture, double-height glazing on the canalside and the use of colour make this a special, bright and lively space that the pupils and staff shape to their own needs.

The school creates a strong presence towards the towpath and adjacent marina, improving the sense of community in this industrial area. We were delighted to hear that at the end of the first day one pupil put on her lifejacket and climbed into a canoe to paddle home with her dad!

The project has received much positive attention and a few awards: an Education Award from the Glasgow Institute of Architects (2015), Development of the Year (Public Buildings) at the Scottish Property Awards 2016, a Scottish Design Award, a SPACES Civic Building of the Year Award, and an RIAS Award.

Client East Dunbartonshire Council
Total value £6.1m including abnormals
Completion April 2015
Area 2,108 m2
QS Sweett Group
Structure Woolgar Hunter
Building Services Morgan Sindall Professional Services
Landscape Iglu Studio
Contractor Morgan Sindall Construction
Client's agent hub West Scotland
Acoustics Max Fordham LLP



  Photographs / Drawings / Video

Site plan

Visualisation by Soluis

Visualisation by Soluis

Visualisation by Soluis

North elevation

South elevation

Section B

East elevation

Section A