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St Joseph’s Primary School and Nursery Case Study: Graphic Identity and Interior Design


St Joseph’s Primary School and Nursery

Overview St Joseph’s Primary School in Blantyre, South Lanarkshire, is a new school situated on what was a vacant, grassed site to the north of the existing building. The existing school was a labyrinth-like concrete structure, which had long been in disrepair. The aim was to design a school with a clear architectural diagram, combining necessary internal relationships with clear wayfinding and flexible teaching environments, whilst giving the external envelope a playful yet strong sense of identity and a distinct presence in the community. The design solution adopted for St Joseph’s was the creation of a layered arrangement of spaces over two storeys which separated the public realm on arrival from the private areas such as classrooms and the playground to the south. Materials were chosen for their robustness and ease of maintenance, whilst close consideration was given to maximising natural ventilation and daylight to provide a healthy and sustainable environment.

Designers Perspective 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 St Joseph’s Primary School and Nursery. This Case Study gives their views on the project, including these overall impressions; Peter Magnus, RMJM (Designer on Project) “The colours and graphics serve the purpose of clearly identifying specific zones and assisting wayfinding and navigation through the school – this provides an internal environment that is stimulating, navigable and reflective of the direction and optimism that the new school offers and inspires in its pupils and staff.” Lucy Richards, StudioLR

Jason Brown, Abbozzo

Top: ICT Room Bottom: Colours and signing (Photos: RMJM) All: Colours, signing and wayfinding (Photos: RMJM) Cloakroom object (Photo: RMJM)


“[There is an] instant understanding of how the building plan works. [The school] feels very open, well lit with natural daylight and a joy to navigate and explore”

“The children are clearly taking an interest in what they see as ‘their’ building and this is greatly enhanced by easy interaction of person and environment.”

St Joseph’s Primary School and Nursery

Interior Design Lessons Clear central focus for the school A light and spacious building, with a three storey ‘internal street’, which provides a generously proportioned clerestory lit ‘white hall’. Each part of the school is linked to the next with open ceilings and large viewing spaces cut into the walls.


he generous three storey height of the ‘internal street’ is key to the success of the building. The fun and clarity of the ‘special’ coloured objects can easily be perceived as individual spaces contained within.”

Entering at the midpoint on the plan, and circulating either left or right along the ‘internal street’, there is an instant understanding of how the building works. Colour defines different areas within the school The view from the main entrance divides the building into 3 colour ‘zones’, which draws you in their direction. This also links the inside space with the outside yard using colour strips, which are reinforced with the location signage - creating a barcode pattern. Having these colour coded areas of the building pecific makes wayfinding clearer. coloured


The yellow, green and orange ‘special objects’ along the internal street provide a visually dynamic and fun environment.

areas and dedicated boards of children’s work create a friendly place.”

Graphics can be playful or bold A consistent graphic approach was also incorporated in the interior design, reflecting the strong barcode theme of the external envelope. The graphics are softer and more playful to the nursery and junior school areas, whilst the upper school graphics are bolder and more striking, reflecting a growing maturity within the more senior areas. From the outside, such a large formal building could risk being austere but the bar code graphic successfully creates a giant keyboard to break up the space. The external elevations provide a flavour of the interior graphics and architectural language deployed, namely the colour coding and barcodes.


olour and graphics assist wayfinding and navigation which give the interior space a strong identity.”



St Joseph’s Primary School and Nursery

Shared zones are brought together at the heart of the school The open plan shared zones; Library, ICT, General Purpose Areas and Cloakrooms; are brought together in the heart of the school and expressed as bold, easily identifiable colour coded objects which are open to all circulation spaces.


t was a joy to observe the use of the breakout space for music lessons.”

This allows several learning zones to be simultaneously supervised either directly or passively, creating a sense of generous space whilst allowing views through the building and a greater level of visual connection and communication between spaces. Cloakrooms are directly accessible from each classroom, at an appropriate scale for their purpose. The colour coding assists in providing a visual reminder for the students. The breakout and circulation spaces get used for one-on-one and group music lessons, and there does not appear to be any conflict with the adjacent classrooms. New configuration of spaces allows for greater sustainability and different ways of working This change away from cellular accommodation has benefited the school and its approach to sustainability in many ways. Aside from the obvious spatial benefits, it has allowed for the omission of costly and energy consuming air conditioning units which would otherwise have been required to service these areas. Central shared resource areas provide a different environment to the cellular classrooms and allow flexibility of use and the opportunity for shared teaching.

A+DS Reflections There is a very strong graphic identity at St Joseph’s, based on bold use of colour and signage. This provides an interesting and stimulating environment for the pupils and staff. The interior and graphic design supports the architectural structure of the school, and provides a way of understanding the spaces. Wayfinding was given careful consideration, and the designers have cleverly created an environment which is fun to explore, but also easily navigable.

Having had the support of the school and local authority, the designers were given scope to move away from more traditional interior and graphic design ideas. St Joseph’s allows us to see some new ideas and possibilities of what interior and graphic design can bring to a project.

Top: Internal graphics and colour scheme Bottom: View of exterior and playground (Photo: RMJM)


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 St Joseph’s Primary School and Nursery. Location: Blantyre Architect: RMJM Client: South Lanarkshire Council Completion Year: 2010 Age Range of Pupils: 3-11 years School Roll: 396 (plus 40 nursery pupils) Other Case Studies in the Series are: Auchterarder Community School Hyndland After School Club 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 Jason Brown (Abbozzo), Peter Magnus (RMJM) and Lucy Richards (Studio LR).


Profile for Architecture + Design Scotland - Schools Programme

St Joseph's Primary School and Nursery: Graphic Identity and Interior Design Case Study  

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

St Joseph's Primary School and Nursery: 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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