Edinburgh gives green light to Passivhaus high school
Planning permission has been granted for the new Currie Community High School which is set to become one of the most energy efficient high schools in Scotland.
The campus will be the first Passivhaus-designed high school in the country setting the standard for energy consumption across school estates. Passivhaus is a rigorous energy standard which reduces the amount of energy needed for heating by up to 90%. It also lowers the total amount of energy used by around 70% and minimises carbon emissions. The new school will support Edinburgh’s aim of net zero emissions by 2030.
Plans were approved at the City of Edinburgh Council’s Development Management Sub-Committee yesterday with construction expected to start in the summer and be completed in 2024.
At the heart of the new school plans are five core elements: education, inclusion, outdoor learning and sustainability, digital learning and community access. The school will have a series of learning zones for pupils with breakout areas which include:
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) over three levels with dual-teaching classrooms, science labs, technician areas and a learning plaza
- Languages and Humanities with dual-teaching classrooms, learning plaza and a debating chamber
- Expressive Arts with music rooms, a recording studio, art studios including a kiln room, dance studios, drama studio and stage
- Health and Wellbeing with a gym hall, games hall, fitness suite and swimming pool, food technology and hospitality
- Integrated Support with wellbeing hub, support for learning classroom, a sensory room and a sensory garden
There is a strong emphasis on outdoor learning with the creation of a special terrace on the second floor providing all of the learning zones with immediate access to external teaching spaces. This focus will shape the curriculum on offer and ensure these outdoor spaces promote sustainability and link lifelong learning to the surrounding grounds of the school and community.
Health and wellbeing also feature prominently in the designs with the creation of a dedicated wellbeing hub and separate wellness centre to support pupils. The hub will be based in the integrated support zone and is a dedicated room in a quiet location which can be used as part of a planned alternative/flexible timetable to help young people learn in a variety of settings. The wellness centre will be in the community and sports side of the building and will provide a space for counselling and activities to support improved mental health.
Designed by Architype, the new building will offer the community daytime, evening and weekend access to an intergenerational community hub. Visitors can drop in to the library space in the foyer, access meeting rooms and digital services, visit the café, keep healthy at the gym and pool or enjoy a walk around the grounds.
Jenny Smith, Currie Community High School head teacher, said: “We’re are incredibly excited about what our new school has to offer as a learning and community campus. As the opening of our new school draws ever nearer, there is an amazing energy around curriculum development and how we ensure that young people develop the skills to be 21st century ready.
“As the first Passivhaus School in Scotland, we are committed to energy efficiency for the benefits of our young people and community. The opportunities for intergenerational learning are endless with transformational learning spaces both inside the building and out.
“We are certainly paving the way for an innovative and educational experience for all where young people strongly influence their future and make valuable contributions to the world around them.”
Councillor Neil Gardiner, planning convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “I welcome the decision taken today in approving the planning application for the new Currie Community High School. This will provide the community with state-of-the-art sustainable high school, sports and community facilities which will meet both future educational and environmental needs.
“It’s great to see such a strong emphasis on outdoor learning with the creation of a special terrace and how the outdoor spaces will promote sustainability for the school and local community.”
Councillor Ian Perry, Education, Children and Families convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, added: “The pioneering designs that have been approved today really are the blueprint for the schools of the future. There are many innovative elements to the plans with energy efficiency at its centre. This will make the new campus the first high school in Scotland to meet Passivhaus standards and supports Edinburgh’s aim of net zero emissions by 2030.
“The new Currie Community High School will provide a first-class learning environment and an exciting, inspirational and creative hub for the whole community.”