Westwater Building

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

Nestled within the serene campus of Dollar Academy, the Westwater Building, situated adjacent to the Category A listed Playfair Building, is specifically designed to accommodate language study classrooms. Ingeniously integrated into the sloping site, this structure incorporates ventilation through distinct vertical chimney stacks for each classroom. The circulation space is artfully designed, opening up to the quadrangle, offering a panoramic view of the all-weather hockey pitch through a strikingly cantilevered glass gallery. This gallery boldly hovers above a sheltered ground floor passage.

In 2008, we were appointed to create a masterplan that harmoniously aligned the Academy’s building needs within an overarching vision for planned and conscientious campus development. Our focus was to both preserve and enrich the historical significance of the Playfair Building while paying due respect to the immediate Dollar surroundings. The Westwater Building, completed in 2015, was delivered as a result of this masterplan.


Conceptually, our approach revolved around crafting a simple yet elegant structure; an upper level of glass and timber, seated upon a solid brick ‘plinth’, serving as a robust foundation for the lighter structure above. The architectural character emerged from a deliberate offset, establishing a covered loggia and secluded sitting spaces on the ground floor, sheltered by the cantilevered glazed access gallery leading to the upper classrooms. By terracing the lower floor into the hillside and strategically offsetting the upper classrooms, natural light seamlessly filters into the ground floor spaces. Ventilation chimneys, precisely dimensioned to this offset, not only anchor the streamlined form but also mark the extent of each room in the plan, ensuring fresh air circulation in the lower spaces.

On the upper level, the classrooms reside beneath a canted roof framed by the cantilevered access gallery on one side and ventilation chimneys on the other. Internally, our aim was to maintain a minimalist and sturdy materials palette, reflecting the simplicity and honesty of the exterior design. The brick walls seamlessly transition into the entrance lobby, while the timber tongue-and-groove paneling mirrors the exterior vertical cladding. A contrasting slate-like tile adorns the ground floor, creating a striking contrast against the timber wall cladding, further accentuating the experience of the solid plinth base.


Ground Floor Plan Upper Floor Plan Cross Section

Project Info

Dollar Academy
Dollar Academy, Dollar, Clackmannanshire, FK14 7DU
Internal Floor Area
August 2015
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
M&E Engineer
Harley Haddow LLP
Landscape Architect
Ian White Associates
Cost Consultant
CDM Co-ordinator
Kirk and Marsh
Andrew Lee