Pupils are the architects of their town’s future

Zeynep Armut, Aislinn Melville, Leah Blackley, Beth Falconer and Connor Wright with their winning design.
Zeynep Armut, Aislinn Melville, Leah Blackley, Beth Falconer and Connor Wright with their winning design.

Pupils at Dalkeith High School last week put their heads together to come up with potential solutions to a local problem – redeveloping the town centre.

The Creative Dalkeith project removed the supervision of teachers and allowed second year pupils to work alongside professional architects D2 Architectural Design on a practical design and construction challenge, demolishing Jarnac Court and improving the centre of Dalkeith for the benefit of local people, after they had identified Jarnac Court as an area within their local community that they feel can be put to better use.

Each group of pupils presented final 3D models to the D2 architects. The winning entry, by Zeynep Armut, Aislinn Melville, Leah Blackley, Beth Falconer and Connor Wright, was chosen in a vote by teachers and pupils from the other year groups.

Aislinn said: “We thought it was important to make Jarnac Court appear more glamorous as it’s very grey and dark at the moment. There’s a lot of concrete and we decided to create a section that had a marble floor which we feel would help it stand out.

“Our big fountain in the centre would give Jarnac Court a proper feature and allow people to relax in calm surroundings as there’s nothing there at the moment. We also felt it was important to have some sort of park that would add more colour to Jarnac Court and also give it a more natural feel.

“The redevelopment of St Andrew’s Square in Edinburgh was our main inspiration and it would be great to have more of a café culture around Jarnac Court. People would be able to sit outside and enjoy a nice view of the water fountain and greenery.

“We also added a textured path that will help safely guide the blind and disabled to the bus stops and park. This will make accessing the buses much easier for them and help to avoid any accidents.

“We feel the people of Dalkeith would enjoy socialising in our version of Jarnac Court and we can’t wait to create our 3D computer version at D2 Architects.”

Art teacher Shaun Gordon instigated the challenge, which involved all 100 S2 pupils, split into 18 groups, using materials provided by Letts Dalkeith.

Mr Gordon believes the project highlights the importance of the skills pupils have been developing.

He said:“The pupils developed their knowledge of architecture in art and engineering science, sustainability in environmental biology, model making in CDT and build upon their presentation skills in subjects such as English and drama. It was building up to last Wednesday, the kids have been learning specific skills for this. In geography they have been learning about town planning. And in maths they were learning about checking the area mass.”

Mr Gordon also believes the project will benefit the pupils when they leave school.

He said:“This made them realise that everything learned in school is honed in to hopefully give them a successful career after school.

“They were learning all about the importance of team work. No matter what job they get they have to learn how to work with people, so this allowed them to appreciate the importance of teamwork and how all their learning links into itself.”

Revealing that the architects want to make this an annual event, Mr Gordon added: “They were taken aback by how creative and innovative a lot of the kids were.”