School goes for steel option
Set to replace an existing school in a nearby village, the West Calder High School has
opted for a steel framing solution for cost and efficiency. Martin Cooper reports.
Work is progressing on a new
1,100 capacity secondary
school in the West Lothian
village of West Calder. The
project will replace a nearby existing school
and includes a host of amenities such as
a swimming pool and other indoor and
outdoor sports facilities.
The school is West Lothian Council’s
largest ever single investment in education.
It is being developed through Hub South
East Scotland, with Morrison Construction
appointed to build the new school.
Due to open later this year, the project
architects say the school has been
designed with the pupil experience at the
core, as well as providing facilities accessible
to the local community.
The swimming pool, fitness suite, games
hall and outdoor sports pitches will be
open to the public at certain times, as
will the amphitheatre, which is a feature
that forms an integral part of the school’s
The multi-use amphitheatre is positioned
in the centre of the school with the
classrooms located around the perimeter,
while more flexible learning space is located
in nearby main circulation areas.
As well as the amphitheatre, most of the
school’s facilities, such as the pool, games
hall and dining area, are all located within
large column-free spaces. Consequently,
their buildability was one of the main
reasons for choosing
framing solution for the project.
“Early in the design process we looked at
all framing options, weighing up their pros
and cons. Ultimately to build the required
long spans efficiently and quickly we went
with a steel-framed solution,” says Arup
Lead Project Engineer Ian Miller.
However, before any of the structure
could be built, access to the project’s site
had to be improved. During the early stages
of the job’s 91-week programme, a narrow
local road, passing a number of private
properties was used. Construction of a new
£5.5M bridge over the A71 and a link road
has now provided the site with a haul route
Preliminary works also included
Morrison undertaking ten weeks of grouting
up of old mine workings that run beneath
Once the bridge was in place, Hescott
Engineering was able to
West Calder High
School, West Lothian
Hub South East
Scotland on behalf of
West Lothian Council
Architect: Archial NORR
Steel tonnage: 800t
The steel frame model
of the school