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The truths they don't want you to read....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New school - more thoughts

I've looked at the plans, and although I don't have the full architectural language to describe the plans, the following is my view.

The overall design obvious attempts to mimic/replicate/echo the Comhairle buildings.

The Comhairle buildings are subsiding due to the ground conditions, and could do with sympathetic redevelopment with a wrecking ball and half a ton of TNT.

I have a few problems with the entrance area onto the corner of Sandwick Road/Matheson Road. This will push the children into two of the busiest roads at crucial times and the crossing, access and pupil management issues will need very serous work. That corner has been opened up over the past few years, and now it will need to be closed, or at least access restricted.

The plaza between the north side of the building and the old Tech building is very interesting and exciting, andore than compensates for the trivial loss of direct access along Springfield Road. The drop down is a function of the site, BUT I feel that the space is too constrained by the nature of the site resulting in the two buildings being almost on top of each other.

The same problem arises with Matheson Hall, and although there is clearly an attempt to meld the buildings, I feel that the new build totally overshadows and overpowers the old buildings.

This is a problem with the site, with too much needing to be crammed into a small site.

Clearance from Historic Scotland is obviously going to be a key element of the application, and I would be surprised if this version got approval.

I would think that the design could be improved by making the long leg of the building four stories high, and with the two small legs being moved south (into more of an "F" shape) this would allow the plaza area to be expanded, making it the major entrance into the building, with the bus park off Sandwick Road being more closely controlled and with restricted access to prevent pedestrians coming through this area.

The smaller footprint would mean that that the old buildings are less overwhelmed by the new build, but this still has problems with the increased height of the new building.

Assuming this site has to be used (declaration of interest!) then there are going to be some compromises and I think that children's safety and the impact on the historic buildings are two I am greatly concerned about.


Anonymous said...

Interesting points - and I agree with them. Although Id like to point out that looking at the drawings the sheer scale of the roof suggests that there will be accomodation up there already - so its already a 4 story building I would think.

I personally think that digging down at the Springfield North side to create a retained square a bit of a design cop out - you could do much more exiting things with the money - for instance, if the area was on current ground level, would it be much more of a different experence being in it than with the proposals suggestion of excavation? not a great deal...

Personally I think a more organic approach to the footprint of the building - starting from the current Horsa huts and working its way down the site - breaking down the scale of the composition to gel beautifully with the historic buildings. Creating a fluid form - and creating a building which would be a pleasure to be in and be around.

Personally - I think whole thing needs a total re-design. Would the council accept public ammendments to design!! I wonder!

Anonymous said...

Glad you’re an accountant and not an architect...... mind you, I've not experienced your accountancy skills.

As for the parking, if I recall correctly from talking with the Architect at Matheson Hall, buses are on the large open area on what is currently Springfield road along with the Chelsea Tractor drop of point, teachers (who are old enough to use the green cross code) are south of Sandwick Road and pupils are in the current bus park on Smith Avenue. Simple.

Anonymous said...

Lets hope they got enough car parking, unlike the hospital.

Anonymous said...

Build the thing out at Goathill, somewhere out of the town anyroad, and pen them in at lunchtime.

Anonymous said...

What is it with people and old buildings, bulldoze them and that will open up the site up and provide many more options. People are too sentimental, the whole Island is stifled by bureaucratic nonsense, Whether it's birds on the moor or old buildings in the town. Take some video and images and preserve it that way.

Anonymous said...

"What is it with people and old buildings"

Look at it as oppurtunity - not obstacle. Its interesting to note that the best learning environments in the current nicolson are undoubedly in Springfield North and Matheson Hall.