Harmeny Learning Hub
Balerno, Edinburgh

A new outdoor learning centre to help nurture and support vocational skills in a mature woodland setting

The Vision

The design of education spaces has long prioritised learning, but today’s classrooms need to focus on the wellbeing and social development of students. Historically, classrooms and schools have been designed not with childrens’ needs in mind, guided instead by budgets and funding and delivering linear teaching models which can limit personal growth of those who need it most.

Prioritising the needs of children in education design gives us an opportunity to nurture those students who rely on complex care systems. Harmeny Education Trust is a Scottish charity delivering therapeutic residential care and education to children with additional support needs due to early years trauma and adversity. In 2019, Loader Monteith was commissioned by the Trust to design and deliver the Learning Hub, a new low-carbon vocational learning centre designed to expand Harmeny’s capacity to care for children over 14 years of age.



The Conclusion

Nestled within a mature woodland, Harmeny Learning Hub is designed on the concept of an ‘embrace’, nurturing both students and staff through an enriched relationship with nature.

Our design, characterised by an L-shape plan, provides a secure and uplifting outdoor learning space, a protected courtyard enclave bordered by the building and treeline.

From bicycle repair workshops to art rooms, every vocational space is thoughtfully designed to encourage hands-on learning and the development of practical skills. Drawing from research highlighting the cognitive benefits of green environments, windows and access points are strategically positioned to offer glimpses of the surrounding tree canopies, strengthening the students’ connection to nature, and creating easy access to the courtyard.

Harmeny Learning Hub is a haven for learning, discovery and healing, and extends the Trust’s legacy of exceptional care and education. Prioritising the students’ wellbeing has given way for a building that serves their needs beyond learning, setting them up for a successful future.

The results

The team

Support Architect:
Studio SJM
Structural Engineers:
Harley Haddow
Services Engineers & Sustainability Consultants:
Harley haddow
Landscape Architects:
Wardell Armstrong