Edinburgh Council unveils plans for Scotland’s first passivhaus high school

THE City of Edinburgh Council has unveiled plans for the build of Scotland’s first passivhaus high school.

Construction of the new Currie Community High School will incorporate the german building 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.

Further to the sustainable theme of the school is the strong emphasis on outdoor learning through the creation of a special terrace on the second floor, which will provide all of the different zones of the school with immediate access to external teaching spaces. The council said this will help shape the curriculum to offer and ensure the outdoor spaces promote sustainability and a lifelong learning to the surrounding grounds of the school.

Five learning zones in total are shown in the designs, which the council said will act as core elements of the school. These are made up of education, inclusion, outdoor learning and sustainability, digital learning and community access. The series of learning zones will have breakout areas which include:

  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) over 3 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

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.

Jenny Smith, Currie Community High School Head Teacher, said, “We’re incredibly excited as a community about our new school. The designs are coming together beautifully and truly representative of our community vision for education and lifelong learning. Our new school is going to be innovative and pioneering in every way, very much flying the Passivhaus flag, and of course, the first of its kind in Scotland.

“This is an opportunity like no other to venture into the world of 21st century education. Currie Community High School is an ambitious and aspirational school for all with the principles of inclusive practice permeating everything we do.  The inclusive spaces in the new build will continue to strengthen our work where the future generations of Currie will benefit from an experience where everyone can reach their amazing potential.  Although, uncertainty will prevail in an unfolding unpredictable world, it is what we can achieve together as a community that best prepares our young people to embrace the exciting unknown.

“The emphasis of our new build will be on enhancing the learner experience through exciting use of new versatile, transformational spaces within learning plazas, break-out areas and classroom settings. These spaces, all fit for purpose, will enable learning to take place in a variety of ways, creating conditions where young people can continue to contribute and have impact on the global community that surrounds them.”

Councillor Ian Perry, education, children and families convener at The City of Edinburgh Council, said, “These are really exciting times for the Currie community as these pioneering designs really are the blueprint for the schools of the future. There are so 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. This is an exciting period for education in the capital with recent new builds and projects under construction demonstrating our ambitious new school building programme with £500m investment planned over the next 10 years.”