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Competition: Camphill School, Aberdeen

The RIAS has launched a contest for a major £10 million revamp of two Camphill School campuses in Aberdeen (Deadline: 30 July)

The competition seeks conceptual proposals for a 10-year overhaul of the pioneering, Rudolf Steiner-inspired day and residential school for children and young adults with special support needs.

The project will transform the school’s Murtle Estate and Camphill Estate campuses, both located on the suburban western fringes of Aberdeen. Planned improvements – ranging in value from £50,000 to £2.5 million – include refurbishments and the reconstruction of three residential blocks.

Camphill School, Aberdeen

Camphill School, Aberdeen

Camphill School, Aberdeen

According to the brief: ‘Camphill School Aberdeen (CSA) is committed to securing the long-term viability of the charity by ensuring that there is the necessary capital investment in the current infrastructure required to meet its strategic objectives. Urgent capital investment is required to ensure that CSA can both maintain and increase capacity while continuing to deliver excellent and cost-effective services.

‘CSA seeks to improve and modernise its facilities to enable growth, particularly in young-adult day services. The proposals aim to create more revenue-efficient, environmentally sustainable buildings while retaining a strong emphasis on the family type environment to support the values of CSA.’

The school was founded in 1939 by a group of educators including Austrian paediatrician Karl König, to provide educational and employment support to children and young people with learning difficulties.

The school moved to the Camphill Estate in 1940 and now operates out of three separate campuses in the local area. The facility inspired the ‘Camphill Movement’ which has seen more than 100 similar centres set up around the world.

Planned improvements include the refurbishment of Murtle Hall and Camphill House, improvements to the Murtle campus swimming pool, and the reconstruction of the Mignon, St Tiernan’s and St Andrews residential houses.

Other upgrades include the delivery of a new workshop for young adults, a bed-sit accommodation block for volunteers and apprentices, and a new residential house on the Camphill Estate.

Interested teams should submit a 500-word statement detailing relevant experience and explaining their interest in the project. Five shortlisted teams will then be invited to form multidisciplinary teams and submit sketch proposals.

The overall winner will receive a £2,500 prize and the design commission. The other finalists will each take home £1,500.

How to apply


The deadline for applications is 30 July

Contact details

RIAS Consultancy
15 Rutland Square

Tel: 0131 229 7545

Contact RIAS Consultancy to request further information

Q&A with Kathleen Scott

The director of Finance & Corporate Services at Camphill School Aberdeen discusses her ambitions for the contest

Kathleen Scott

Kathleen Scott

Kathleen Scott

Why are your holding an open competition to rethink Camphill School’s campuses in Aberdeen?

Camphill School Aberdeen (CSA) feel that holding a national competition through the RIAS-supported route will give an excellent opportunity to be able to consider the widest range of architectural talent. This route will enable us to consider a wide range of applicants while being supported by RIAS and bring a high level of architectural expertise into the decision-making process. In my past role I was involved in using the RIAS competition route to select architects and found it to be an excellent process, the board and senior management team of CSA have supported this idea and are very enthusiastic about the process.

What is your vision for the new school campuses?

The vision for the new school campuses is to provide creative, homely and sustainable residential care accommodation and to provide innovative workshop and learning spaces that will support our residential care service and enable us to expand our day placement numbers. Other aspects of the project will include looking at the provision of employee/ apprentice/ volunteer accommodation to enable us to maintain the community aspect of our work while improving the efficiency of the accommodation. The two campuses are located in the beautiful surroundings of Deeside and encompass around 40 hectares of land and it will be important to achieve a design concept that is sympathetic to the landscape. Sustainable issues are an important part of the brief as CSA are proud to be part of Eco Schools and are committed to environmentally friendly and sustainable design.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

We are very open to exploring all options and would hope that a broad range of practices will apply, ranging from smaller emerging practices to larger more established ones. It will be important that we can work closely with the successful architect-led design team to help us create an overall design concept that can be successfully delivered. I would hope that working on this project would provide the successful applicant with an excellent opportunity that can showcase new design in the sector and provide significant future opportunities.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

We would envisage that there will be an ongoing range of projects in the future as CSA strive to upgrade its extensive property portfolio to effectively support its strategic development. Future projects may vary in size and scope and CSA will look at the most appropriate method of procurement available to best support future projects.

Are there any other recent innovative school campus projects you have been impressed by?

Leading up to the decision to go down the RIAS competition route myself and other colleagues have visited a range of other facilities and have been impressed with a range of architectural work but at this stage, I would prefer not to make reference to any particular project. 

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