Home » Passivhaus extension approved for Victorian-era school

Passivhaus extension approved for Victorian-era school

by Mark Cantrell
The City of Edinburgh Council has granted planning permission for a major new Passivhaus extension at the Trinity Academy.

Something old is getting something new – while preserving the heritage – now that the City of Edinburgh Council has granted planning permission for a major new Passivhaus extension at the Trinity Academy.

Listed building consent was also granted for refurbishment and environmental improvement works to Trinity’s original Victorian school building that dates back to 1894, and is set within the city’s Victoria Park conservation area.

The project was designed by Holmes Miller, the architects of a new-build sports and outdoor centre for Trinity Academy which opened in 2022.

Highly experienced in education design, and with significant expertise in sustainability, the practice has designed several schools in Scotland’s capital, including Sciennes, Frogston, Canaan Lane and Victoria primaries.

John Burns, associate at Holmes Miller, said: “Gaining planning permission for this modern, energy-efficient facility is great news for the community both in and around Trinity Academy. The project not only considers environmental design requirements but also relates to the sensitive historic context and original school building.

“The team here are looking forward to delivering a project that meets all the aspirations of the Scottish Government Learning Estate Investment Strategy – to connect people, places and learning, improve outcomes for all and promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

“The project will involve several phases and elements to keep the school live and functioning during the build and refurbishment process, and we have a clear decant and phasing strategy in place to minimise disruption to pupils and staff.”

During the consultation process, staff, pupils and the local community indicated their strong desire to retain the school’s original Victorian building, refurbish it and incorporate it into the new design.

The extension will feature a social and dining ‘heart’ where the school can come together to socialise, collaborate and learn. The original building will connect directly to this central space, bringing old and new together, while a ‘learning stair’ will also lead from the ‘heart’ to the school’s main reception space.

Now plans are approved, enabling works – including the installation of a temporary classroom and dining units that will allow the school to remain open during the build process – are expected to begin over the coming months.

Holmes Miller says that once a main contractor is appointed, several existing school buildings which are no longer fit for purpose will then be demolished to make way for the new four-storey Passivhaus extension. This will offer modern learning facilities for the school’s 1,200 pupils, while also significantly driving down running costs and carbon emissions.

New outdoor features at the school will include an ‘arrival plaza’ with seating and social spaces, an amphitheatre, a well-being hub garden, a growing space and an outdoor gym. This extensive provision will maximise the potential for outdoor learning while also supporting local community groups.

To encourage active travel and the 20-minute neighbourhood, cycle storage and electric vehicle charging also form part of the plans.

Main image: Trinity Academy Design CGI. Credit: Holmes Miller

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