HRH The Princess Royal visited Gordonstoun today to officially open one of the ‘greenest’ classroom buildings in the UK.
The Princess Royal unveiled a plaque naming the classroom hub, ‘The Queen Elizabeth II Rooms’, in honour of Queen Elizabeth II and with approval from The King, a former Gordonstoun student.
HRH The Princess Royal – who holds the role of ‘Warden’ at Gordonstoun – met students and was given a guided tour of the new classrooms including demonstrations of how students at Gordonstoun are using AI in the classroom and from the school’s robotics club who will be competing at the National Championships later in the year.
HRH The Princess Royal was also given an insight into how the school supports neurodivergent students and spoke to staff involved in delivering Gordonstoun’s award-winning mental health and wellbeing services.
Much of the design of the building was inspired by Dumfries House in Ayrshire, and Gordonstoun representatives visited the estate as part of the planning process.
The Queen Elizabeth II Rooms, clad with Siberian Larch timber, boasts advanced environmental credentials such as solar PV panels, ground source heating and hi-tech C02 monitoring. The solar panels generate enough free energy for four months of the year, while the overall bill for the building has been substantially cut.
The building has also been installed with the latest technology, including control systems for removing and adding walls to change the size of the existing rooms, and interactive teaching walls.
The Queen Elizabeth II Rooms at Gordonstoun, set in 200 acres of woodland by the Moray Firth, is the first phase of the school’s bold masterplan to create a new ‘classroom village’ to upgrade its facilities for students and the local community, while reducing energy and the school’s carbon footprint. It is the most ambitious construction programme at Gordonstoun since World War II.
Gordonstoun Principal Lisa Kerr said:
“We are committed to providing our students with the best possible learning environment while being mindful of reducing our carbon footprint.
“The low carbon design is a signpost to how we want to develop the rest of the school estate as part of our bold masterplan leading up to the school’s 100th anniversary.
“Gordonstoun is always looking for ways to innovate and The Queen Elizabeth II Rooms’ is the first step in our biggest building project since WWII. The classroom hub is built to the highest environmental standards and provides our students and staff with the latest facilities, technology and equipment.
“HRH The Princess Royal spent time seeing how AI is used in the classroom and our robotics club gave an impressive demonstration, which hopefully bodes well when they compete in the National Championships later in the year.”
The Queen Elizabeth II Rooms were designed by renowned architects Rivington Street Studio, who specialise in creating innovative education buildings across the UK.
The architects drew some of their inspiration from two traditional craft training buildings at the Dumfries House Estate. The new classrooms feature similar high ceilings, timber cladding and lanterns on the roof for more natural light.
Rivington Street Studio Director Wendy Mason added:
“The Queen Elizabeth II Rooms sets the standard for new sustainable teaching and learning spaces across the UK. The unique landscape of the Gordonstoun campus allowed us to create a bespoke building, which is very low carbon.
“The buildings we looked at on the Dumfries Estate are simple in design but have great character, such as the high ceilings. Incorporating such elements at Gordonstoun gave us more freedom to design something unique that is fun and inspiring for the students.”
The Queen Elizabeth II Rooms were built by construction firm Taylor and Fraser. The building opened to students and staff in April 2023 following 14 months of construction.
The underfloor heating is provided by ground source heating, which involved creating bore holes up to 4o metres deep. Despite being more costly to install than air source heating, Gordonstoun chose the more environmentally friendly option to complete the only building of its type to meet the Scottish Government’s new stringent energy and environmental standards, introduced in February last year.
Angus MacInnes, Construction Director, said:
“The Queen Elizabeth II Rooms at Gordonstoun is one of the most advanced teaching environments in the UK and without doubt ahead of its time. The building is very cutting edge and energy efficient with all the latest mod cons for the students, including interactive teaching walls.”
The Gordonstoun masterplan also includes a new boarding house, Sixth Form centre, new outdoor spaces and increased access to Gordonstoun’s heritage buildings.