New Futures Institute at Dollar Academy will be Scotland’s first Living Building

New Futures Institute at Dollar Academy will be Scotland’s first Living Building

Proposed external designs of the FIDA building

Dollar Academy has unveiled plans to build a Futures Institute, which will provide a physical home for its pioneering educational programme and deliver the country’s first Living Building accredited structure.

The Futures Institute has been designed by international architecture practice Grimshaw, led by Andrew Whalley OBE, the chairman. Mr Whalley is a former pupil of Dollar Academy and the architect behind many award-winning and globally renowned structures including the Eden Project in Cornwall, the International Terminal at Waterloo, and the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center in New York.

It will be the first Living Building Challenge accredited structure in Scotland, meeting the highest benchmark of sustainability in the built environment. The energy self-sufficient Institute will create a positive impact on the environment around it, whilst also providing a vital space that will bring young people together from across the country to work in new interdisciplinary ways.

New Futures Institute at Dollar Academy will be Scotland’s first Living Building

The FIDA building entrance

The project will be on display at the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, London. Acceptance for this prestigious exhibition indicates the exceptional merit of the proposals, which will see Dollar house one of the most sustainable new buildings in the world.

Andrew Whalley OBE said: “Dollar Academy has a long history of encouraging students to explore the arts which of course fuels the imagination and creative problem-solving. It’s now leading the way with a paradigm shift in learning, to be shared as an open platform resource. Such an initiative requires an equally fresh approach to its future centre, with an architecture that will support team working, collaboration and exploring new creative sustainable solutions that will empower and inspire the next generation to tackle the planetary problems we now all face.”

Endorsed by leading figures from education and industry, Dollar Academy FIDA programme was launched in May 2021 to tackle three fundamental challenges in education – providing equitable access and closing the poverty related attainment gap; finding compelling alternatives to traditional teaching and exam systems; and addressing sustainability.

New Futures Institute at Dollar Academy will be Scotland’s first Living Building

The proposed view from Dollar Academy

The initiative provides young people across Scotland with unique opportunities to undertake real-world challenges founded on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. These take the form of workshops, skills-based courses, design challenges and competitions, all of which are offered either in person and/ or via an online platform to enable the widest possible participation.

FIDA courses and projects share three key characteristics: they are rooted in at least one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals; they require pupils to think creatively and draw upon different areas of knowledge and learning in order to solve real-world problems; and they are co-designed and delivered with experts from industry and universities.

Hundreds of young people from the Borders to Shetland have completed FIDA courses with more than 50 local authority teachers also making use of the resource. FIDA videos have attracted over 35,000 views and since Covid restrictions have eased, FIDA has run workshops at Dollar Academy that have attracted pupils from schools across central Scotland. All FIDA activities are offered free of charge.

New Futures Institute at Dollar Academy will be Scotland’s first Living Building

Andrew Whalley from Grimshaw Architects

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 provision and in-person workshops have allowed us to further develop our existing bursary provision in a modern and scalable way to children across the country, and beyond.

“The current UK education system has largely been inherited from the 18th century, and aspects of it have not changed since then. Recent global events have reminded us how complex the world can be, and it is imperative that we afford our pupils the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills needed to address social and global challenges in an increasingly interconnected world.”

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