St. Bernadette’s School

Planning permission was granted in 2010 for the erection of a Roman Catholic primary school for 217 pupils, with a nursery for 40, and playing fields, in Edward Avenue, Stenhousemuir.  It was the responsibility of Falkirk Council Architects with Stephen McEwan in the lead and was ready on 29 January 2013.  The school opened its doors for the first full year on 20 August 2014.  The building has a corridor running along its lengthy spine.  This spine is further emphasised by a red-rendered curtain wall which projects to the north to flank the main entrance where the name of the school is boldly proclaimed.  It terminates in a prow-like slope beyond which a steel girder and its support lay bare the structural framework.  To either side of the north/south axis the rooms, sometimes one and sometimes two storeys in height, sometimes brightly painted rendered walls, sometimes bare brick, and sometimes glass panels, step out in cubes of varying breadth and height.  Beyond these some even smaller cubes are oddly placed under the over-sailing roof on the west side to provide ready access to the extensive playgrounds.  The east side is reserved for the service access.

Illus: St Bernadette’s Primary School:
Left – Entrance looking south
Right – Detail of Playground Entrances on the west side.

Adrian Welch of Glasgow Architecture wrote the following description:

“The school has a north-west/south east orientation with all 8 class bases taking advantage of afternoon sun light and view over the playing fields. A glazed entrance and steel structural feature draws visitors into the secure reception of the school. From here access is gained into the main activity and circulation ‘street’ with a partially glazed roof providing natural light and ventilation and designed with solar control shading. Glazing to the south, east and west is treated with a solar control film. A feature spine wall separates the school teaching areas, nursery and activity spaces from the administrative and utility zones, gym and dining. This wall is punctured by various entry points and viewing windows along its length. Shared quiet spaces are accessed off the main teaching spaces to allow for ‘quiet’ study time for pupils. The structural design intent is to expose and articulate the ‘glulam’ timber frame in the ‘street’ and class bases. Outdoor teaching space is provided at ground level in the main play area introducing additional teaching facilities for learning. Various external wall textures such as timber slats, smooth polished blockwork and coloured render wall panels compliment the design intent.

The library space is strategically located between the upper and lower school classroom blocks and is enclosed by glazed screens to maximise natural light and to provide a quiet area for study and learning.

The nursery provision is located at the main entrance for direct access and is designed to be a bright and secure environment for under 5’s. There is a direct link to the Primary one class base to encourage interaction between the lower school pupils and the nursery children. Outdoor activity is considered important with an enclosed ‘soft ‘playground area provided, raised planting beds for education purposes and teaching aids to allow nursery child play, exploration and discovery. A moveable glazed wall can be fully retracted during summer months.”

Ms Marianne Savage(present)

Sites and Monuments Record

Edward AvenueSMR 2264NS 8752 8395

G.B. Bailey, 2023