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Grimshaw Reveals Design for Scotland’s First Living Building

 

Grimshaw has unveiled plans for the Futures Institute at Dollar Academy (FIDA) in Scotland, UK, which will serve as the Institute’s permanent location and be constructed to achieve the nation’s first Living Building accreditation.

FIDA was established in May 2021 to address three key issues in education that are:

  • ensuring fair access & addressing the performance gaps caused by poverty
  • identifying persuasive alternatives to the current system of instruction and assessment
  • addressing sustainability

The program offers exceptional chances for young people in Scotland to take on practical problems based on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. These take the shape of workshops, skill-based courses, design challenges, and contests, all of which are provided in person or online to encourage the broadest involvement.

Every aspect of the structure has been planned to meet the requirements of the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Living Building Challenge, which envisions a structure that is both attractive and functional while also being in harmony with the environment and human population.

Architecture To Inspire the Next Generation

The design strategy uses a practical, cost-effective structural form and careful material selection to reduce the amount of embodied carbon. Concrete is exclusively used in the foundation. The structures’ surrounding walls are made of a glue-laminated timber frame with gabion frames filled with locally quarried stone.

The entire structure is made of a lightweight, glue-laminated geodesic dome that is covered in solar panels and the most recent insulation technology, including insulated ETFE pillows. With complete summer ventilation, this roof can maximize passive solar gain all year round.

A study on education reform was requested from Professor Ken Muir by the Scottish Government, and he stated that FIDA’s “radical approach to education places the student experience at the center, giving crucial chances to connect with business and stakeholders outside of the classroom.” I am quite impressed with the initiative’s goals since they closely match several of the recommendations I made in my report to the Scottish Government on a future vision for Scottish education.

FIDA Location

Futures Institute at Dollar Academy (FIDA)

FIDA is located at the southern end of the Dollar Academy campus, near the 1819 Grade A historic building designed by Playfair, from which the school grew. The Institute’s biophilic form is immersed in a working landscape, accessible via a network of pathways and botanical gardens resurrected from a previous nineteenth-century plan. Terraces, berms, ponds, and swales are densely planted to support the building’s water and waste needs while also providing an invaluable educational resource and an inspiring recreational environment.

The interior, which is flooded with natural light, is intended to evoke the sensation of being in a highly tempered outdoor space. The ground floor is centered on a large open space for projects and performances, and it is connected to the first floor by timber-stepped auditorium seating.

Workshops and laboratories line the perimeter, providing transparency and openness through glazing. The first floor is made of cross-laminated wood and has space for both traditional and experimental gardens. A multi-use landscaped roof terrace is provided by a flexible, partitioned classroom structure that spans the open void.

Future of FIDA

FIDA

Dollar Academy has always promoted the transformative power of education, and this idea is at the very heart of FIDA,” says Ian Munro, Rector at Dollar Academy. “FIDA’s free online provision and in-person workshops have allowed us to further develop our existing bursary provision to children across the country, and beyond.”

FIDA is also poised to be a local economic driver, having formed a new partnership with Scotland’s International Environment Centre, Clacks Council, and Stirling University. With these partners, FIDA is investigating how a sustainable business accelerator could turn young people’s ideas into reality, fostering entrepreneurship and empowerment.

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