Based on the notion that adults will always require coherent guidance on life's challenges, the School of Life aims to make learning relevant and to put it back in the centre of peoples' lives.The School is a place where counselling and support is offered in a stigma-free way. Topics such as love, relationships, family or careers are explored through talks, lectures, classes, workshops, events and therapy.

The School of Life is an existing organization in London, recently it has published a series of 6 books on how to cope with some of life's crucial aspects.


A charred timber auditorium raised above a landscape of steel columns.

A solid concrete element connecting the layers of the building and site.

A private garden bringing light to the accommodation at the back of the site.




The site has a progression upwards which has been followed by the layout of the building, as you advance through, the activities and spaces become quieter.

At the front the auditorium and cafe give a public face to the Grassmarket. You can then go through to the Library or up the solid element to a classroom or event space.

At the back, dug into the earth, are the consultancy rooms where therapists are able to carry on researching their topics as well as give therapy sessions in a quiet environment looking over the garden.

All spaces have been designed to encourage self-awareness, either as apart of a group or as an individual. I have tried to achieve this by making the spaces of learning informal and also by introducing a variety of communal spaces where people are able to meet, chat and if they want, to share their experiences.


Right: Long section through main spaces

LEFT: Sectional Elevation going up through Patrick Geddes Steps

RIGHT: Sectional Elevation through library and courtyard



layers of stonework and mist,
framing mystery and wonder
steps connecting platforms,
through a fog of dreams
gathering places,
enlightening ideas
bridging memories,
across thick walls
each doorway and alley,
unwrapping the city,
with ladders and stones



The chosen site for the project is in the middle of the Grassmarket in Edinburgh. It is currently occupied by residential flats which will be knocked down after a hypothetical fire causes too much damage to the structure.

The site's historical background offers a reflection on the entire process of life experience, from the Grassmarket being a former site of intolerance and execution, climbing up the layers to the castle, a symbol of power and triumph.

The SOL aims to put learning back in the middle of peoples' lives so the site's central location, nestled within a commercial area, allows people to attend a class or therapy session as easily as shopping for groceries or getting a hair cut. The public aspects of the school such as the cafe/restaurant, shop, library and 'Temple to Perspective' are suitably complemented by the prominent location and busy thoroughfare which will draw people in.



The design of the elevation along the Grassmarket was developed through a study of the rhythms and pattersn found in the context of the site.

This response was also based on an earlier creative analysis of the site, catalogued as a site walk which comprised of a series of photographs exploring the vertical cirlulation through the various layers found on the site, culminating in a collage and poem piece.


The soul inaugurates.

Here it is the supreme power.

It is human dignity.

Even if the "form" was already well-known, previously discovered,
carved from "commonplaces",
before the interior poetic light was turned upon it,
it was a mere object for the mind.

But the soul comes
and inaugurates the form,
dwells in it,
takes pleasure in it.


Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space