Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

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Facility of the week

Nesting Primary School, Shetland Islands, UK-Scotland

The design objective of the project was to provide a contemporary educational facility, economical to run and maintain, that responds to the needs and interests of each building user, while connecting the school with the surrounding community and landscape. The simple, flexible and efficient design incorporates important concepts of sustainability into its construction, offers a bright and stimulating environment for learning, and maintains the option for future expansion. The school also demonstrates innovative solutions with regards to full access for all users and passive energy conservation measures. The use of local materials integrate its design into the landscape.

Main design concepts and strategies include:

• Orientation of classrooms for light, warmth and views across the landscape.

• Acoustic ceilings which give an immediate calming effect.

• Appropriate use of bright colours, and pupil and teacher involvement in this choice.

• Windows which open to provide natural ventilation, with internal blinds to stop overheating.

• Careful detailing to keep floor levels inside the building the same as ground levels outside, and so dispense with the need for any ramps or handrails.

• Inter-active whiteboards to replace blackboards.

• Maximum use of recycled materials in the construction and materials which can themselves be recycled.

• Bicycle sheds to encourage children to take exercise.

• The acquisition of a large site around the building for future expansion and for the addition of a nursery should the need arise.

An important aspect of the school building is its respect for the surrounding landscape and local community. A main objective was to not only use materials with minimal environmental impact, but to also ensure the use of local materials, traditions and skills in construction. This project uses local stone, Scottish hardwoods and a high quality finish provided by local craftsmen. Colours were chosen in collaboration with end users to harmonise with the countryside. The dark grey, dark blue and orange are colours found in the surrounding mossy and heathery hills. The school continues to attract attention from near and far, and environmentalists are currently planning native woodlands on the site.

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About this database

The OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments (CELE) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) launched the “Database of Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investment” on 29 September 2011. It seeks to inform the planning, design, construction, management and evaluation of educational spaces, combining resources for strategic investment in educational infrastructure, with exemplary school and university facilities from all over the world.

Drawing on the output of a joint CELE/European Investment Bank project on “Strategic Investment Planning for Educational Infrastructure” and more than 60 exemplary schools and universities featured in CELE’s flagship publication, “Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011”, this database is a unique international resource for educators, designers, policymakers and researchers alike.

Users of the database are encouraged to add their own resource material, or submit new completed university or school projects for publication on the database. OECD and EIB welcome your input to our project!

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The OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments (CELE) presents the top 6 school and university buildings in ”Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011”.

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