steel erection in February. A cut and fill
operation, to form a level base for the
school building on this sloping site, was
also under way at this time.
Approximately 25,000m3 of overburden
has been excavated from the site, with
almost 13,000m3 of this spoil re-used.
Sitting on concrete pad foundations,
the steelwork erection programme has
followed on behind the groundworks and
earthmoving teams, with all of these trades
working in a southerly direction from the
lowest end of the site.
In order to integrate the school to
the sloping topography, two retaining
walls have been constructed across the
building’s footprint, approximately dividing
the building into thirds. The walls form
two steps, 3m and 5m-high respectively.
Consequently, the 100m-long × 60m-wide
building descends from three-storeys down
to one storey at the southern end.
Most of the classrooms, as well as the
school’s main entrance, are located within
the three-storey northern end of the
building. Because of their different uses,
many of the classrooms are of varying
sizes. This has resulted in an irregular
structural grid and the need for numerous
transfer beams to support the irregularly
Overall the school building has
a composite design with steelwork
supporting metal decking with a concrete
topping. Bracing, located in the roof and
in stairwells, provides the frame with its
Dominating the central area of the
school, the amphitheatre and its adjacent
Terraced seating for
A number of varying
floor levels have
resulted in a complex
feature staircase are the most complex part
of the project’s steelwork.
As well as offering access to all of the
school’s floors, the staircase is 20m-wide and
incorporates terraced seating. A series of
facetted rakers forms the curved shape of the
terrace as it wraps around a portion of the
Supporting the staircase is a series of
girders each weighing in excess of 4t.
As well as erecting the steelwork and
installing the metal decking, Hescott
Engineering also lifted in the precast
terracing units. According to Hescott’s
Business Development Manager John
Dowds, a total of 37 crane lifts were needed
to install the precast units.
Three 20m-long × 3.5m-deep trusses
form the amphitheatre’s open-plan columnfree
space. One of these trusses is positioned
at the north end of the space, where the
building steps up from two storeys to three.
The other two trusses tie into the first truss
and span southwards creating the open void.
Looking at the school from the outside
the most striking feature will be the roof.
Intended to be a nod to the surrounding
countryside, the roof slopes down from
the three-storey element towards the
single storey area, incorporating three
A West Lothian Council spokesperson
said: “The modern, high-quality school
will be a fantastic resource for local
young people, providing an ideal learning
environment for them to achieve their full
potential. This investment will help ensure
that West Lothian continues to have one of
the best school estates in Scotland.”