Spens Building

First phase of an expansion of teaching spaces at the heart of Fettes College.

The Spens Building is a harmonious blend of new construction, renovations, and adaptations, delivering a new generation of educational spaces for Fettes College. Catering to a diverse range of departmental needs, from Mathematics to Mandarin, the facility encompasses a spectrum of spaces, spanning from intimate one-on-one conversation rooms and individual music practice pods to expansive art studios. This complex was developed with a keen eye on cost-effectiveness without compromising the construction quality or the selection of materials that seamlessly integrate with its surroundings.

This phase of the project, which reached completion in late 2015, encompassed the construction of a new educational wing, dedicated to mathematics and languages, featuring art studios on its upper levels. Simultaneously, the existing north building underwent significant modifications to house a new music school, coupled with geography and economics departments.


Within the teaching wing, classrooms were thoughtfully positioned to face north, providing scenic views of the sports fields and a screen of mature trees. The building relies on natural ventilation, utilizing operable windows and passive chimney stacks placed strategically at the core of the floor plan. Spacious circulation areas are generously proportioned, allowing for informal discussions and breakout spaces beyond the classroom setting. On the upper levels, three double-volume art studios with north-facing roof glazing offer consistent, even lighting. Furthermore, a dedicated art studio on the top floor caters to 6th-year students, affording panoramic views of the main art studios below.

The new music school is a transformative endeavour that revitalizes the existing north building courtyard into a dynamic performance venue. Accessible through a contemporary glazed lobby, the space is bathed in natural light, thanks to a central rooflight, and boasts timber panelling on the ceiling and walls to ensure optimal acoustic performance.

To improve circulation and overall legibility of the building, a new stairwell has been introduced. The strategic use of internal glazing within circulation areas fosters visual connections and provides enticing glimpses into the central performance space, enhancing the overall user experience.

Project Info

The Fettes Foundation at Fettes College
Fettes College, Carrington Road, Edinburgh, EH4 1QX
Internal Floor Area
December 2015
Scottish Design Awards - Education Category - 2017
Structural Engineer
Will Rudd Associates
M&E Engineer
Harley Haddow LLP
Landscape Architect
Derek Carter Associates
Cost Consultant
Thomas + Adamson
McLaughlin and Harvey
Andrew Lee