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Past and present meet at SPACE Craigmillar

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Nestled within the Craigmillar Community of South East Edinburgh lies a building that bridges Places for People’s past and present. 

SPACE Craigmillar is a fascinating facility that once housed Craigmillar Primary School and has been at the heart of Craigmillar for over a hundred years. Today, it serves as an arts space and Community hub, hosting numerous groups and projects to engage the local Community in the arts. For this reason, SPACE is a shining example of how at Places for People, we try to preserve our Communities’ history, whilst supporting progress into the future. 

Bridging Edinburgh’s artistic and social heritage  

Designed by local architect Ebenezer J MacRae, the building opened as Craigmillar Primary School in the 1930s. The school was built as part of the wider development of the Craigmillar neighbourhood, as more families moved out of overcrowded central Edinburgh. 
The school remained open until 1999, when declining pupil numbers forced it to close. The school building was due to be demolished and converted into flats, but the local community campaigned to have it listed by Historic Scotland. 

This listing was in no small thanks to the mural that features in the school dining room. The ’Children At Play’ mural was created by John Maxwell in 1935, depicting pupils enjoying themselves around Craigmillar. Maxwell studied at Edinburgh College of Art as well as in France and Italy, becoming part of the ’Edinburgh School’ artistic movement. The ’Edinburgh School’ was significant in bringing continental artistic styles like Modernism and Expressionism to Scotland, adding a unique blend of European style and local Scottish subject matter. 

Art historians have highlighted Maxwell’s desire to put Scotland on the artistic map and his appreciation of everyday local life, portrayed lovingly and vividly. His work can be placed firmly within the ’Scottish Renaissance’, a period when local artists, writers and poets considered the nature of Scottish national identity and aimed to cement it within their art. 

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At the heart of the Community  

Saved from demolition, the school building was acquired by Places for People Scotland (then known as Castle Rock Edinvar) in 2003. Work was completed in September 2006 and SPACE – Craigmillar Social Enterprise and Arts Centre was formed. The building has been a successful arts centre and Community hub ever since. 

SPACE is a special and unique building housing many charitable and voluntary sector organisations. Inspired by John Maxwell’s commitment to the Edinburgh’s local culture, 

SPACE emphasises the importance of the arts in developing the local Community and improve people’s lives. By default rather than design, our Customers have developed relationships with each other and work well together on joint projects that are of benefit to their business and most importantly their clients.

SPACE is also home to two goldfish, Paul and Astrid, who are extremely popular with the adults and children alike! The tradition of keeping goldfish began after staff at SPACE adopted a goldfish found abandoned in the basement of one of our commercial properties. She was named Gloria since she survived against all odds!

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SPACE is now home to the following social enterprises and organisations:
•    Capability Scotland , a day service for adults with physical, sensory and learning disabilities providing accessible arts and social support
•    Curious Seed , an award-winning performance company that creates emotionally charged performances that reach across ages and art forms. Their work has been presented across the globe from Milan to Macao, and New Zealand to Norway.
•    Drake Music Scotland , Scotland’s leading organisation creating opportunities for children and adults with disabilities to make music.  
•    LYRA runs Artspace , a vibrant venue in the heart of Craigmillar, with a 116-seat theatre, a flexible studio and foyer designed by artists with young people, which embraces broad Community participation through a range of diverse events.

Find out more about our history and heritage at Places for People.