Toronto Primary School

Collective Architecture, Livingston, 2016


Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

Precast concrete external cladding panels 

Keith Hunter     Download Original

  • Precast concrete external cladding panels    
  • Pilkington Profilit Reglit glazing panels    
  • The glazing panels bring natural light into the building’s interior    
  • The greenish, translucent colour of these glass ‘planks’ subtly picks up the verdigris from the copper fascia of the existing school building    
  • School workshops and parent/teacher consultation allowed for artwork and landscaping to be integrated into the design    
  • The gym    
  • Circulation space    
  • The new purpose-built gym hall    
  • The whole school is accessible and Disability Discrimination Act-compliant    
  • The new route through the school offers elevated levels of natural light    
  • Location plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Ground floor extension    
  • Sections AA and BB    
  • Section CC    
  • North elevation    
  • South elevation    
  • East elevation    
  • West elevation    
  • Precast reglit elevations    
  • Frameless glazed rooflight precast junction    
  • Games hall, main parapet detail    
  • Typical reglit corner junction at Games Hall (High Level)    
  • Reglit sandblast pattern    
  • Reglit precast concrete jamb at Games Hall (High Level)    
  • Internal precast panels and artwork    
  • Lower floor precast parapet detail    

A verdant theme runs through Collective Architecture’s improvements to this primary school in Livingston.

The original Toronto Primary school was completed in 1971. It is a long, primarily single-storey brick structure with a continuous copper fascia/flashing around its perimeter. The extension is to the west of the existing school, and the challenge for the architect and the landscape architect was making the whole school accessible and Disability Discrimination Act-compliant. This has been achieved by the introduction of internal and external ramps with subtle changes in floor level. Pupils now access the school from a safe drop-off point, through a clearly signposted lobby into an internal ‘streetscape’.

The new route through the school offers elevated levels of natural light. The head teacher and janitor’s offices are clustered together with administration space at the new secure entrance. The new games hall can also be used by the local community, and a timber screen can be moved to cut it and the entrance off from the rest of the school. In front are changing rooms and toilets around an assembly space lit by a large rooflight. Both the existing school and new addition are of steel frame construction and clad in large, precast concrete panels fixed to the frame, inside and out. The precast concrete panels are smooth-finished internally, but have a pattern set into the external cast that suggests the foliage of the mature trees to the front of the school.

The development comprises an innovative monolithic textured precast concrete games hall, which opens out to the school playing fields. The textured concrete is punctured only at high level by way of a bespoke sandblasted pattern across glazed Reglit apertures, conveying the pattern of the surrounding tree-lined avenue. The concrete wraps the entire base of the proposed extension, with the exception of the school’s main entrance, which is overclad in vitreous enamel rainscreen, signifying the school’s branding colour (RAL 3000 Flame Red).

While the building has a simple structural form, the bespoke nature of the materials made the detailing of the interface with the structure a challenge, in particular the 125mm-thick bespoke precast panels, the adjacent Reglit glazing and structural glass canopy between glazing. The architect’s design had taken the panel joints and junctions with adjacent materials to be a key feature of the design, resulting in minimal tolerance in the line and level of the precast concrete external cladding panels and associated elements.

In addition, the bold seamless nature of the precast panels, meant all fixings had to be made from the rear, providing restrictions on the phasing of the install and connections to the primary structure, requiring completion of the insulation and masonry envelope of the building prior to erection of the precast units.

The design team ensured close co-ordination with the precast supplier and steelwork contractor, and in turn we were able to develop a strategy for the installation of the panels, allowing them to be installed and levelled with minimal access to the rear fixings. By achieving this, the installation of the adjacent materials – the Reglit and structural glazed canopy – could be carried out in a relatively simple manner, ensuring the strong lines and key detailing were maintained throughout.


  • Begun: Feb 2016
  • Completed: Dec 2016
  • Floor area: 3,345m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £2.1M
  • Funding: Scottish Futures Trust, West Lothian Council, Government
  • Procurement: Traditional
  • Address: Howden East, Livingston, EH54 6BN, United Kingdom

Professional Team

AJBL Sponsor

Thrislington Cubicles

Builders of the worlds best toilet cubicles, vanity units, lockers and panels at our factory in the United Kingdom since the 1960s

Find out more