2005-12-08

New Special School Design for Glasgow

A 'state-of-the-art' school for Scottish children with multiple disabilities is to be built in Glasgow. 'The Hazelwood School' will be the first building in Europe designed specifically to cater for the needs of children who may have combinations of disabilities, such as severely impaired eyesight and deafness, learning difficulties or physical handicap. Designed by the architects Mr.Gordon Murray and Mr.Alan Dunlop, the 5.5_million_GBP building, which will be based in Bellahouston Park, in the Dumbreck area, will be open to children from across Scotland and act as a centre of teaching excellence. The design process took place in conjunction with Glasgow City, which commissioned the building to replace two existing institutions for children with dual disabilities, the Kelvin and Carnbooth schools, which are to be closed. Mr.Dunlop said that the building's function had dictated the form of its design.
'It has taken us a year of working with the council, teachers, disability groups, parents and the children themselves to come up with the best sort of design,' he said. 'We actually donned goggles that imitate sight impairment and went into the schools just to get a feel for what it's like to be visually impaired. 'It was a very difficult project. We've been working with complimentary colours, twinning reds with greens to help create delineation. 'The main corridor's interior wall is lined with cork, so that sight-impaired pupils will be able to run their hands along it to help them navigate. But in addition to this, there will raised strata on the wall, to help guide the children to their classes. 'The floors will be plain neutral colours -- because coloured patterns can appear as holes in the ground to the visually impaired -- but there will be different textures to let them know when they're stepping over a threshold.'
A total of 52 pupils aged between eight and 18 will be able to attend the school, where in addition to attending lessons, they will learn life skills that will allow them to lead independent adult lives.
'We wanted to create the school so that it would allow the pupils as much independence as possible while making sure there was a safe environment for them,' added Mr.Dunlop.
'So they can go outside and walk around the campus and explore it, knowing that the paths we have created will take them back to the building.'
Work is expected to begin next month, with the school opening in 2007. Ms.Margaret Mccafferty, the City's education services convener, said:
'Really, we look upon this as a national resource, not just a Glasgow one, that meets all the educational needs of the children.'
'Architects look to pupils for school plan ', Craig Brown, The Scotsman, 2005-12-08

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