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Halyrude RC Primary School, Peebles

Halyrude RC Primary School, Peebles

The re-design of this two storey building is centered around a large double height gathering space in the heart of the School


Previously home to larger Kingsland Primary school, this building in Peebles now houses three smaller educational services in one building, Halyrude RC Primary School, the Rosetta Playgroup and the Tweedale Support Centre. This case study looks at a project which retains an existing building for a new use and creates vibrant learning areas. Much of the work re-addresses the original layout of the Victorian school when natural light and ventilation were key.


The original section of the building is a Robert Wilson design dating back to 1900 and is Grade B listed along with the adjacent Schoolhouse, play area buildings, boundary walls and railings. 

Some additional single storey extensions were added in 1965 and the building last underwent a major refurbishment and upgrading, including all the internal mechanical and electrical installations, in 1973 when it was catalogued and published as a model for the refurbishment of old Primary Schools for contemporary use. Original documents and publications are held in the School.

Scottish Borders Council prepared a Project Brief and in May 2009 design development commenced on a Project to refurbish the School to reach current day standards for the teaching provision including physical education and wellbeing along with the core services and insulation values of the building fabric.  It was generally considered that the building fabric and roof were in reasonable condition and many of the rooms would require minimal attention, although it had been some time since a thorough survey has been carried out.


During the last refurbishment a ventilation/air management system was installed within the roof space area, although there is little anecdotal evidence that it is either used or effective. Along with the air management system an existing floor void at First Floor level was filled in to provide additional teaching space,  this  removed a significant amount of natural daylight from the ground floor teaching area as well as obstructing the natural air flow from ground floor to roof level.


The re-design of this two storey building is centered around a large double height gathering space in the heart of the School.

This top lit space was the original atrium within the Victorian building but had been concealed for many years while occupied by Kingsland Primary. Kingsland had a substantially larger school role and demands on space had led to the atrium being converted to classroom space on both the lower and upper floors.

Now, with a smaller population this generously proportioned space has been re-instated and the architectural features of the roof trusses and the day light this provides are being enjoyed once again.


The existing Teaching, Physical education and Dining facilities were retained but re-fitted with new suspended ceilings and electrical services including smartboards and IT along with decoration works and floor coverings.


A lift was installed to give full access to the first floor level for people with disabilities along with wheelchair accessible Toilet and changing provision.  An external ramp to the main entrance was formed with stone and handrails selected to complement the existing building and maintain the Listed Building status.


The existing timber framed windows were generally in good condition apart from minor repairs required to some rotted sill and astragal sections.  To improve the thermal performance of the building the refurbishment included for replacing the existing single glazed panels with Slimlite double glazed units, with a 4 mm cavity between panes these were fitted directly into the existing timber sash and case frames and the visual alteration from single glazing did not give Planning any concerns in relation to the existing Listed Building status.  It was not considered viable to insulate the external walls as this would significantly reduce the internal room areas.  The roof voids were fitted with 300 mm of insulation quilt and flat roof areas were replaced with new coverings and insulation board.


The existing oil fired heating was replaced with a gas fired system with new boilers serving high level radiators and radiant panels all connected through a new control panel with a remote access provision.


Please see the full case study for comments from staff and students on the refurbished school building. This is available to download from the right hand panel of this page.


Scottish Borders Council

Smarter Places - Architecture and Design Scotland


Resource Efficient Scotland supported the preparation and presentation of this case study for the Retrofit Scotland website.

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