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Auchterarder Community School Case Study: Graphic Identity and Interior Design


Auchterarder Community School

Overview Auchterarder Community School is an educational campus comprising a number of buildings ranging in scale and activity. It is an all through school which combines a Nursery, Primary and Secondary. It is also used as a community facility, and the common functions and resources for the school and community have been grouped together in a hub building where the main sporting and public events take place. Graphic designers were commissioned as part of a lottery funded public art project to create a school identity, signage and interior graphics. Several artists were commissioned to add their work to the interior and exterior environment.

Designers Perspective

Welcome signage outside the school (Photo: Studio LR)

Architecture and Design Scotland (A+DS) invited three designers, one of which was involved in the project, to visit and comment on the graphics and interior design of Auchterarder Community School. This Case Study gives their views on the project, including these overall impressions;

Jason Brown, Abbozzo

Lucy Richards, Studio LR (Designer on Project) “The successful design of this school is a result of the great relationship between the client, architect, public art co-coordinator and artists. This combination of expertise contributed to a learning environment that is thoughtful and rich in visual interest. There is a wide range of design and visual art to engage pupils, staff and visitors.”

“The abundance of inspiring bespoke artwork stencilled directly onto the walls is a constant feature which adds to the richness of the environment. They are fresh and clean interiors, with plenty of variation in the plan providing for a stimulating environment.”

Peter Magnus, RMJM “Overall, Auchterarder feels like much more than a school. It is what all schools should aspire to be; the heart of the community. It forms a holistic learning environment which fully embodies learning and creative play for both pupils and adult learners within the community. The availability and accessibility of the campus buildings and facilities for community use, whether it be for education, recreation, sport, culture, social or creative use is an important mechanism for engaging with the local community. The integrated public art adds aesthetic, visual and educational interest to the entire campus creating an engaging and inspiring environment.”

Art Work within the School (Photo: RMJM)


Auchterarder Community School

Interior Design Lessons Graphics can create a strong identity for the School StudioLR designed an identity for the school – to represent the nursery, primary and secondary as part of the whole school community. This became the school ‘badge’ and was applied to uniforms, jotters and the school website. Exterior welcome and directional signage for visitors to the campus were designed with elements from the schools identity applied on walls to identify each building. Personalising the space gives pride and ownership In the secondary school, mesostic poems were handpainted onto large atrium walls to integrate with the fabric of the interior. This was the outcome of a piece of work given to the pupils on the theme of Scottish Heroes – the pupils wrote words to represent the heroes and the designers worked with an artist to create mesostic forms. Feedback from this showed that the pupils were proud to see their works permanently painted large-scale on the walls. They felt they owned their environment.

Above: Graphic Identity for the Whole School Below: Signage for the Primary School (Credits: Andy McGregor, Photographer / PACE, Project Co-ordinators)

A mesostic poem is made up of a vertical phrase or word which is intersected by lines of horizontal text.



Auchterarder Community School

The games hall has a continuous photographic frieze of past and present class photographs which echoes the history of the area. Mesostic poems are part of the graphic installation exhibited throughout the central circulation street. Recognise the importance of the schools location, and its relationship to the area The main impact on arrival in the high school is the 9 metre high wood panel walls etched with the contours of the local hills flanking the reception area. Below the hills lies the abstracted river Earn and tributaries inset into the vinyl flooring which winds its way throughout the school. This unique design element relates to the local area and stimulates movement through the space. As the river journeys through the space it passes the mesostic wall graphics which depict a series of educational and humorous poems. The design extends externally where banded stripes of coloured tarmac form a geographical poem of local rivers, lochs, forests, towns and mountains incorporating inset lettering across the surface. The installation has a notable impact and offers a wonderful teaching and play mechanism for pupils depicting geographical relationships within context. This installation is also integral to the schools identity in the community and wider afield. Bespoke artwork which makes reference to the schools’ rural environment has been integrated wherever possible which creates a dynamic intervention for adventure and to stimulate learning. Using colour and light to provide visual interest In the nursery, the internal colours are bold and clearly define the zones within. Vivid blue walls identify the wet areas with brightly coloured yellow cupboards for storage. Colourful seating, sandpits and planting marks out areas too. In the primary school, colour is used with restraint and allows the internal furnishing, fit out and classwork to provide the visual interest. In the secondary school, colour is once again restrained with a series of white central objects flanked by two large full height red objects extending up through all three floors defining the extent of the space. The visual interest in this space is provided by numerous art interventions. A large light box depicting the ‘Eyes’ is particularly stimulating and engages with the school, staff and community.

Top: Waterways of the local area inset into vinyl (Credits: Andy McGregor, Photographer / Susie Hunter, Artist / PACE, Project Co-ordinators) Bottom: Mini-hills reflectling the local landscape (Credits: Andy McGregor, Photographer / Samantha Clark, Artist / PACE, Project Co-ordinators)

Top: Mesostic Poetry on the Walls (Photo: Studio LR) Bottom: ‘Eyes’ Artwork (Photo: Abbozzo)


Auchterarder Community School

Scale of spaces for different activities to happen Windows on the timber clad end elevation of the nursery are at an appropriate height for infants and allow connection to the external environment. These small windows double up as window seats which provide intimate 1-2 person hideaways. Multi-purpose break out spaces are centrally located and shared between classrooms, and are separated from the main circulation routes by cloakroom and storage units which are successfully integrated into carefully planned “pods�. Each breakout zone has a feature reading pod which pops out between the line of the external elevation, providing the occupants with oblique external views. The little timber reading pods are smaller in scale than the rest of the internal environment and offer a place of security and enclosure for one or two pupils for quieter activities and intimate lessons. Good social spaces allow children to interact

Speaking tube is fun and interactive (Credits: Andy McGregor, Photographer / Susie Hunter, Artist / PACE, Project Coordinators)

The series of pods, as mentioned above, interrupt the central circulation street and contain the cloak and locker storage. The spaces between these pods form practical social areas. A continuous rooflight overhead floods the central space with natural daylight, illuminating the social spaces and encouraging pupils to migrate and gather within these for study or reflection. Connecting the indoors to the outdoors There is a strong relationship with the natural surroundings, and there are a few examples of this throughout the school. From the gallery above the atrium in the secondary school, you can look out of a large window at uninterrupted views to the North. There is direct access from the ground floor classrooms to the landscaped play areas, where there is a strong focus towards outside learning and creative play. The undulating soft play mini hills provide a place of serenity for pupils, the abstracted house sculpture a place for hide and seek, and the raised deck area complete with picnic benching, a place for games and eating during intervals.

A+DS Reflections

Small window seats connecting the inside with the outside (Photo: RMJM)

Front of School with signage (Photo: Studio LR)


This case study has highlighted the ability of graphics and interior design to create a strong identity for a school. However, it is important that the pupils and staff are involved in this process to give them a real sense of ownership. There is a strong awareness of the relationship to the area - the context within which a school is situated can provide a rich source of inspiration for graphics and interior design. Not only visually interesting, at Auchterarder this has been used also as an educational tool to enrich play and learning.


Project Information This is part of a short series of case studies looking at the interior design elements of three schools. Three designers have reviewed their own projects, as well as the projects of their counterparts on another two projects. This is an amalgamation of their ideas and experiences from visiting Auchertarder Community School. Location: Auchterarder Architect: Anderson Bell Christie Graphic Designers: Studio LR Client: Perth and Kinross Council Completion Year: 2006 Age Range of Pupils: Nursery, Primary and Secondary School Roll: 810 (337 Primary, 473 Secondary) Other Case Studies in the Series are: Hyndland After School Club St Joseph’s Primary School and Nursery This Case Study has been produced by the Schools Programme at Architecture and Design Scotland (A+DS). For more information visit

Architecture and Design Scotland Bakehouse Close, 146 Canongate Edinburgh EH8 8DD Level 2, 11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow, G1 3NU T: +44 (0) 845 1 800 642 F: +44 (0) 845 1 800 643 E:

Produced in association with With thanks to Lucy Richards (Studio LR), Peter Magnus (RMJM) and Jason Brown (Abbozzo)


Profile for Architecture + Design Scotland - Schools Programme

Auchterarder Community School: Graphic Identity and Interior Design Case Study  

Part of a series of 3 case studies looking at the interior design elements of three schools.

Auchterarder Community School: Graphic Identity and Interior Design Case Study  

Part of a series of 3 case studies looking at the interior design elements of three schools.


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