Life at NORR

Double Success at Education Awards

West Calder High School is crowned Project of the Year

interior of west calder high school

NORR’s Glasgow studio had a successful night on the November 27 at the Education Buildings Scotland Awards Dinner. The Education team submitted schools in three categories and were also shortlisted for the Architectural Practice of the Year Award.

In the Project of the Year category, NORR had a standout win with West Calder High School. This $42 USD (£32 million) project which was completed in 2018 has heralded a new era of school design in Scotland. Winning the 2017 Inspiring Learning Spaces award, West Calder has returned after twelve months of being open to win the Project of the Year award, as well as being shortlisted for the Pupil/Student Experience Award.

NORR’s Director and Education in Glasgow, Lead Kevin Cooper led the team comprising of Lorna Denholm, Ross Park, and Phil Murray. The school was built by Morrison Construction for Hub South East and West Lothian Council.

Although this project is both unique and innovative in its design and approach to learning environments, the team has admitted it was not without its challenges. There was a tight budget and the site itself had a 33 foot (10 metre) level difference, and so a more angular approach had to be taken to deliver spaces that provided educational efficiency and spatial richness.

Both Hilltop Primary School and Bertha Park High School were also shortlisted in the Project of the Year category, and although they didn’t win there, Bertha Park did succeed in taking home the Award for Technology: Transforming Learning, Teaching and the Curriculum.

Learning Plaza, Bertha Park

Learning Plaza, Bertha Park

Bertha Park High School was completed in 2019 at a cost of $38 million USD (£29 million), for Perth + Kinross Council, through Hub East Central Scotland, built by Robertson Construction. It is the first entirely new school in Scotland in 25 years, working with a completely new space to create a unique learning environment. While West Calder brought in new educational design concepts, Bertha Park took these further, considering the environmental impact that the school would have, ensuring it would reduce energy loss and use more sustainable energy sources.

While this award focused more on the education and curriculum side of the school, the fact this was a new school meant these elements were being considered by the headteacher and NORR director Kevin Cooper and associate Brian O’Donnell throughout the design process to ensure there would be synergy between the building and its use.

On the success of the Award night, Kevin said,

“All of us at NORR are delighted to win two prizes at the recent Education Buildings Scotland Awards, including the Project of the Year for our West Calder High School.
It really is not just a pleasure, but a real a privilege to play our part in helping to transform the lives of young people in Scotland, improving their learning environments and providing great new facilities for a whole range of people and their communities.”

Learn more about NORR’s thought leadership in Education design here