FOR more than 80 years it has been a familiar sight on Edinburgh’s seafront.
But the painted wooden structure in Portobello which houses Britain’s oldest nursery – The Toddler Hut – looks set to be knocked down and rebuilt.
Plans are afoot to create a new, purpose-built replacement facility – all with the help of the community.
The decision to replace the hut came after it was inspected for its energy efficiency.
Play leader Karen Wilson said: “It turned out we have the worst energy rating when the council was grading the buildings.
“In fact, the men who came to rate it said it was the worst they had ever seen.
“We started looking at how to make the building more energy efficient, but the cost of carrying out the work was going to be very expensive.
“Then we thought, ‘why not make something new that we can be proud of?’”
A consultation is under way with a view to building new eco-friendly premises for the 80 children who use the playgroup.
There are hopes the new structure could be used by other community groups as well.
The Toddler Hut was set up in 1929 and it remains a popular community asset.
Generations have fond memories of their days at the playgroup, with many now sending their own children there.
A blueprint for the new hut has been drawn up by the award-winning Konishi Gaffney architects – husband and wife Kieran and Makiko Gaffney.
They became involved in the project after taking their son, Kazma, to the playgroup.
Mr Gaffney, 41, said: “The hut that is there now is practically falling down. What we’re proposing is a replacement but one which is eco-friendly with views over the sea.
“We presented our plans to the community council who were very positive, so we’re hoping we will get a similar amount of support from the community.
“The Toddler Hut is leased from the council and the conditions of the lease mean we cannot use it for any other purposes, but we’re hoping to make a building that could be used by the community in the evenings or at weekends.”
His vision is a taller building – at two storeys – made from environmentally friendly materials, such as timber cladding and recycled brick.
There are also plans to take advantage of renewable energy sources such as solar panels.
Funds for the project are still to be secured. Konishi Gaffney architects has been working on the project free of charge, along with a group of volunteers.
Mr Gaffney said: “We haven’t yet decided exactly how we are going to go about building the new Toddler Hut.
“You can bring in an outside company, or another way is to get the community to build it themselves and have people getting involved hands-on.”