FIDA Scotland’s new building minimizes embodied carbon through efficient design and material selection

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In September, Grimshaw revealed the designs for the Futures Institute at Dollar Academy (FIDA) in Scotland, UK, which is planned to be the permanent home for the Institute and will be constructed to receive Scotland’s first Living Building certification. The building is expected to be completed by 2026.

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

The design approach minimizes embodied carbon through efficient, economic structural form and careful material selection. Concrete is only used in the foundation, while the enclosing walls of the building are constructed with a glue-laminated timber frame and locally sourced stone in gabion frames.

“The Futures Institute building is an exemplar of sustainable architecture. The design aspects go beyond energy generation and integrating quality of light and natural ventilation; this building considers biodiversity and its place in the broader landscape. The Futures Institute will empower and inspire the next generation to tackle the global problems, such as climate change, we now all face.” Andrew Whalley OBE is the Chairman of Grimshaw and Dollar Academy alumni.

The overall enclosure is made of a lightweight, glue-laminated geodesic dome that is clad with the latest generation of insulated ETFE pillows and solid insulated panes with photovoltaic panels. This roof can maximize passive solar gain throughout the year with full ventilation capabilities for the summer.

Professor Ken Muir, who the Scottish Government commissioned to provide a report on education reform, said, “FIDA’s innovative approach to education places the student experience at the center, providing critical opportunities to engage with industry and stakeholders beyond the classroom. This aligns closely with some of the recommendations I made in my report to the Scottish Government on a future vision for Scottish education, and I am highly impressed with what the initiative aims to achieve.”

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