ARCHITECTURE: Education Building or Project
South Ayrshire Council
The campus approach of gathering council services, while a pragmatic response to economic constraints, challenges educationalists’ and local communities’ perceptions of what a ‘school’ should be. This scheme’s potential goes beyond the provision of school space, as it promises to improve street connections– through its architecture and its activities –engage citizens with their heritage. The original educational body that occupied the site, Ayr Academy, moved in 2017 citing the poor sport and landscape amenity as a significant factor. With the reduced role of a primary school (Ayr Grammar) as opposed to a secondary school, the opportunity existed to make the remaining buildings on the site work more efficiently from both a sustainability and flexibility of use point of view. Through extensive historical analysis and liaison with Historic Environment Scotland and local authority South Ayrshire Council we identified the significance of the various phases of previous development and maximised the use of the remaining buildings. At Ayr Grammar, the education-led mixed use development has looked to exploit and utilise the ‘educational’ outreach aspects of the co-located Ayrshire Archive service, and Adult learning opportunities of its community facilities. Walk through a main entrance – designed to be welcoming, and you could head to the spatially rich central atrium of the school, early years or adult education/art space overlooking River Ayr. The historically rich site which has been the location of a school for over 400 years is immediately adjacent to the Cromwellian Citadel of 1650, and contains within our site itself the original moat/wall of the citadel. The void of the moat has been utilised to house the large archive storage which does not need daylight. The archive roof has been developed as a playground, doubling the useable accessible play area for the B listed school. The attention of the site has again refocused on the original 1880/1907 buildings. The entrance to the public areas of Ayrshire Archives and South Ayrshire Registration Office looks to reactivate South Harbour Street and promote the history of the Citadel and Moat wall. Fabric improvements have been through replacement or reglazing of windows, refurbishment of roof finishes along with improved u-values where opportunities allowed. New services (lighting/heating) have been installed throughout utilising the benefits of a campus wide approach to boilers and sprinklers. Through a strategy of repair, fabric enhancement and contemporary interventions the building has become a facility suitable for 21st Century Learning.