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Westwater Building, Dollar Academy

Westwater Building, Dollar Academy

Key Facts


Dollar Academy


Dollar Academy, Dollar, Clackmannanshire, FK14 7DU



Internal Floor Area



August 2015

Layered strata of ground level cloister below a glass beam of a terrace topped by ventilation funnels.

Project Info

Within the secluded campus of Dollar Academy and adjacent to the Category A listed Playfair Building, the Westwater Building houses classrooms for language study.  The narrow plot embeds the classrooms into the slope of the site, with ventilation into each through expressed vertical chimney stacks. Circulation space opens out to the quadrangle of the all-weather hockey pitch in the form of a boldly cantilevering glass circulation viewing gallery which sits above a sheltered ground floor passage.

Workplace & Health

Compositionally, the approach was to develop a simple, elegant, glass and timber clad extruded volume at the upper level, sitting on a solid brick ‘plinth’ – the latter forming a grounding base for the ‘lighter weight’ structure above.

This character is a result of offsetting the section, creating at ground floor, the covered loggia and sitting space sheltered by the cantilevered floating glazed access galleria to the classrooms above. The lower floor as a result is set into the terraced hillside, with these offset upper classrooms allowing light down into the ground floor rooms. Ventilation chimneys dimensioned to this offset, anchor the streamlined form to the ground, mark the plan extent of each room and provide these lower rooms with fresh air. The upper level classrooms sit under the canted roof framed by the cantilevered access galleria to one side and to the other the ventilation chimneys beyond.

City & Land

We were commissioned in 2008 to prepare ‘A Framework & Vision for Conservation & Development’. The aim was to produce a masterplan that placed the built development requirements of the Academy into a context of planned and thoughtful overall campus development, preserving and enhancing the existing historic setting of the Playfair Building as well as respecting the immediate context of Dollar.


Like the exterior we were keen to keep the internal materials palette simple, honest and robust. We also wanted the inside to reflect the outside as much as possible.  As such the brick walls flow inside into the entrance lobby and the timber T&G panelling echoes the exterior vertical cladding. The slate like tile on the ground floor contrasts with the timber wall cladding and continues the experience of the solid plinth base.

As you move up the timber staircase to the first floor the building opens up to the front and large panels of glass reveal the view across the grounds to the Playfair building. The large sliding screens open to let in fresh air through vertical louvred slats an echo of the timber to the side and rear. The focal stair, comprises a series of closely spaced vertical timber planks running the full height of the entrance, an echo of the vertical ventilation slats, contrasting with the full expanse of the horizontal vista across the grounds of the school. The flooring on the first floor changes to beautiful warm cork that compliments the timber panelling and bronzed window frames and enhances the ‘light’ and ‘airy’ feel of the first floor.


“We are greatly indebted to you and your team for ensuring that we have added such an outstanding building to our campus. I would be most grateful if you would pass on the thanks of the governors to all the team.”

Professor J McEwen Chair of the Board of Governors

Selected Awards

Scottish Design Awards - Education Category - 2016

GIA Awards - Education Category - 2016

GIA Awards - Good for Wood Award - 2016

Sarah Jane Bogle, RIAS Emerging Architect of the Year for her work on The Westwater Building


Structural Engineer: Jacobs
M&E Engineer: Harley Haddow LLP
Landscape Architect: Ian White Associates
Cost Consultant: NBM
CDM Co-ordinator: Kirk and Marsh
Contractor: CCG
Photographer: Andrew Lee