Fettes College Dalmeny House

Dalmeny boarding house adopts a collegiate form which wraps around a central landscaped courtyard, arranged to give views to the Bryce building and its soaring spire. A two storey ‘U’ shaped block, the bedrooms are arranged in wings with the main social spaces at the heart, supported by staff accommodation at the corners. These critical social and circulation spaces intermingle in the building creating a range of provision from the large open plan common room and pantry to the smaller lounge spaces in each bedroom wing.

The challenge of designing a boarding house with a large number of bedrooms is how to achieve a “home from home” feel rather than an institutional one. Our solution has used the social areas as the ‘bedroom glue’, blending the corridors with communal spaces tucked into the corner of the plan looking out to the garden. These inhabited corridor spaces, follow the example of the generous corridors in College East and College West on the upper floors of the Bryce building. Though the proportions are less grand, the intention is the same, to break down the formality of the corridor with places to stop and chat.

Bedrooms range in size from single studies for the lower sixth to double and triple studies for fifth year girls to three and four bedroom dorms for the third and fourth year. They each have a large picture window, looking out to the woodland to the north and west, the lawns and trees to the south aspect or the new garden courtyard to the east. Timber louvres screen the opening sashes to provide added security.

A protective timber screen façade encloses the building on its woodland side, punctured by bedroom windows and slots at the staircases. On the inner courtyard side, the larger windows of the social spaces extend out to the garden with the entrance sheltered in the corner. A low roof canopy unifies the east facing façade and allows direct access from the social spaces to the garden activity spaces. The simple mono-pitch roof form is zinc clad and pitched to the courtyard side, giving a more intimate and domestic scale on the entrance approach.

  • View of Dalmeny set within the woodland 

  • Entrance courtyard at dusk

  • Canopy connects the social spaces to the garden

  • Timber louvres screen the windows and unify the elevations

  • Open plan social spaces create an informal atmosphere

  • Bold finishes enliven the ancillary spaces