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Landscape and Ecology
The site is located on a NNW facing slope to the south east side of Inverness at a height ranging from approximately 145 to 165 metres OD. While generally part of the wider green field land zoned for new development, much of the site for the school now consists of ‘made up ground’. Consequently the vegetation cover consists mostly of grasses and self sown common weed species established following the changes to the surface over the past few years. The slope to the west forming the steeper bank to the burn has some native shrub growth.
None the less a BREEAM approved ecologist will carry out an ecological survey and develop recommendations for appropriate native and biodiversity planting. The school grounds will be contained within a shelter belt of predominantly native trees and shrubs. The shelter belt closely follows the style of the structure planting plan submitted by Tulloch Homes in connection with the wider phased housing developments. These will also include guidance on species suitable for an ’educational’ garden sited between the two main teaching wings.
The tree and shrub planting associated with the car parking can be developed with a wider palette including more ornamental species but appropriate for the site conditions. Generally the landscape planting is to help provide a visual aesthetic to enhance the new building.
The building is all on a single storey. The finished floor level has been established to respond to the topography of the site landscape. In order to reduce the scale of the building, a low ridge height and roof pitch has been designed. Although surrounded by an undulating landscape the impact of the proposal will be kept to a minimum as it steps down with the site.
As described above, the structure has been designed to sit low in the landscape, in order to reduce its visual impact. To achieve the low roof pitch, a metal roof covering is being used. The stainless steel standing seam ‘Ugitop’ covering weathers to a natural matt finish. By separating the elevations into distinct elements, the scale of the building is reduced and creates meaningful façade depth.
The roof overhangs the main south facing circulation/play area spaces to protect them from overheating and also to create a covered external space. By overhanging the roof, the form remains simple. Untreated larch timber cladding is used to offset the hard character of the metal cladding.
As part of the response for the building to reflect a regional ‘distinctiveness’, the design is based on the tradition of metal and timber cladding, commonly found in rural agricultural buildings.
The other material element in the building is glass which has been used generously where required and completes the simple palette of materials for the school.