BakerHicks and Balfour Beatty launch Scottish Prison Service HMP Highland schools design programme

BakerHicks and Balfour Beatty launch Scottish Prison Service HMP Highland schools design programme

Multi-disciplinary design, engineering and project delivery company BakerHicks and international infrastructure group Balfour Beatty have set pupils at a local school near Inverness a unique challenge: to produce a mock design for a family centre based on real-world information from the Scottish Prison Service’s (SPS) HMP Highland project.

Currently in preconstruction, the first new prison in the Scottish Highlands for more than a century is the principal feature in the schools design programme, which ran throughout November at Millburn Academy as part of SPS’ Community Benefits Plan.

Pupils completed weekly work experience sessions with experts from SPS, lead contractor Balfour Beatty and BakerHicks, who are lead architects on the project, as well as providing civil & structural engineering, mechanical & electrical engineering, BIM management, and principal designer services.

Whilst gaining invaluable insights into the industry, pupils completed the design challenge, formulated by BakerHicks as part of their work experience scheme. This saw the pupils come up with their own concepts for the mock design, based on a brief provided by the actual project design team who will mentor them through the process. At the end of the five weeks, the pupils gained an Industrial Cadets award, as well as coming away with a portfolio of work showcasing their experience and new skills.

Laura James, head of Scotland at BakerHicks, says the programme reflects the community aspect of the new prison: “SPS’ ethos places a focus on community and societal reintegration, and what better way to include the community than by giving the next generation an understanding of the concepts behind the new prison’s design. We carry out similar projects as part of our work experience programme at BakerHicks. These real-world challenges give students a true insight into what a career in design and engineering offers, its challenges and its rewards, as well as developing their practical abilities, interpersonal skills and creative capabilities ready to start their careers.”

Hector MacAulay, managing director at Balfour Beatty, added: “Engaging with young people at significant points in their education is essential to provide them with the industry skills and knowledge they do not always obtain from traditional classroom-based lessons.

“That is why Balfour Beatty are delighted to partner with BakerHicks and SPS to develop out mock HMP Highland design challenge for Highland high school pupils, to inspire the next generation of specialists within the industry. Through programmes such as this, pupils acquire invaluable practical, first-hand experience and the skills required to succeed with a career in construction.”

The ambition is that a legacy design challenge will be created from this programme, running across secondary schools in the Highlands, Islands and other regions.

When completed, HMP Highland will serve the Highlands, Islands and Moray areas, holding up to 200 offenders in purposely designed accommodation units. It reflects a step-change in prison design and service delivery for the Highlands and has been developed taking full consideration of Highland Council’s Sustainable Design Guide. Designed to be community facing, its architectural design with a central roundhouse and long winding wave main building is centred on helping people in custody reintegrate back into their local communities.

The strategic aims of the prison include delivery of a range of innovative practices in order to stimulate, promote and sustain cultural change within a civilised custodial environment that positively supports offender rehabilitation, reducing reoffending. It will also build upon the existing community links of its predecessor, HMP Inverness, bettering service delivery, whilst also improving the experience of visitors to the prison.

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