Kirkwall Grammar School, Orkney

Kirkwall Grammar School, Orkney

Kirkwall Grammar School, Orkney

Kirkwall Grammar School, Orkney

Kirkwall Grammar School, Orkney

Kirkwall Grammar School, Orkney

Kirkwall Grammar School, Orkney

Kirkwall Grammar School, Orkney


Morrison Construction






15285 sqm





“We are delighted with the new school. The whole school community has been lifted by the building which is light, airy and spacious. Break out spaces, double classrooms, a superb theatre and outstanding PE facilities are just some of the features that make Kirkwall Grammar School a superb learning and teaching environment. The foresight of the Scottish Government and Orkney Islands Council in funding this wonderful building is to be commended.”

Sheila Dick, Head Teacher , Kirkwall Grammar School

Flexible learning zones for a variety of teaching styles

The new Kirkwall Grammar School has been designed to accommodate 900 secondary school pupils and provides teaching and learning spaces in support of the 21st Century ‘Curriculum for Excellence’, providing modern sports and performing arts facilities.

Kirkwall Grammar School is part of a multi-million pound schools investment programme in the Orkney Islands which delivered a new grammar school and arts centre, a halls of residence, and a swimming pool and squash courts, all in Kirkwall, as well as a new primary school in Stromness. All of the buildings were designed by Keppie and delivered over a 2-year period.

With a population of just over 8,000, Kirkwall is the biggest town and capital of Orkney. It is a centre of education and a focus for the local arts scene, both of which will be accommodated within the new Kirkwall Grammar School (KGS), the largest component of the overall programme.

As a typical tandem build solution, the new school was constructed on land previously occupied by KGS’s playing fields. The existing school was demolished to make room for new outdoor sports facilities after pupils had moved into the new building.

Kirkwall Grammar School, Orkney
Kirkwall Grammar School, Orkney
Kirkwall Grammar School, Orkney

The new school has been designed to create a distinctive focal point, not just for pupils but also for the local community. To this end the school building includes the 350 seat Orkney Arts Theatre, designed to replace an existing theatre and to function as a public performance venue as well as a facility for pupils to use during school hours.

An open street runs through the centre of the school creating a series of flexible teaching/social spaces and providing access to separate teaching wings.

The provision of flexible learning ‘zones’ and ‘teaching walls’ that promote a variety of learning and teaching styles is complemented by external spaces that have been fully designed to utilise and integrate with the building design and ensure that they are an important part of the learning environment. The design demonstrates a considered approach to the local climate.

The main feature of the school is the centrally positioned and naturally lit three-storey high ‘street’ or atrium. Overlooked by corridors from the adjoining three-storey teaching area s- which also accommodates social and dining spaces – with the oval shaped Arts Theatre located at the head.

KGS Sports Centre is a state-of-the-art sporting facility for the community of Orkney and is an integral part of the school building. A large Games Hall, Gymnasium, Dance Studio and Multi-purpose hall have been designed to accommodate an extensive range of sporting activities, health, fitness, wellbeing, and any community.

Externally, the Grass Pitches are available for Football or Rugby and the Synthetic Grass Pitch can be booked as a third, half or full pitch and is available for Football and Rugby – Training Sessions or Matches with wet and dry changing facilities available within KGS Sports Centre.

Kirkwall Grammar School truly has been designed to serve the community of Kirkwall and reflect the culture of Orkney. The materials chosen for the building are appropriate and rugged enough to withstand the Orkney climate whilst complementing the local vernacular.

The landscape design enhances the site’s biodiversity and ensures that the building ‘belongs’ to its immediate and wider urban context.