Spens Building, Fettes College


The Spens building delivers the next generation of teaching spaces at Edinburgh’s famous Fettes College. A combination of new-build, refurbishment and adaption.


Fettes College, a leading independent school, sits moments away from historic central Edinburgh. The project transforms teaching provision for everything from mathematics to music to modern languages with 14 light and airy new classrooms, seminar rooms and break out areas. It demonstrates well the harmony of modern, low-energy architecture within a sensitive historical setting.


Achieving planning consent in a strict conservation setting. This required extensive consultation with neighbours, local amenity groups, Historic Environment Scotland and the local authority. The proximity to the A-listed main college building. Meeting low energy targets. Noise pollution. Budget restrictions also meant multiple options to solve these problems had to be delivered.


Impact on the environment was kept low by using renewable energy and passive systems. Low energy sustainable ground-source heat pumps serve the underfloor heating throughout. Vertical shafts serve ventilation to the classrooms that take the form of chimneys – a style that fits in well with the historical setting. The project has not only provided a new suite of contemporary teaching spaces but has also relieved pressure on other buildings within the campus.

Key Facts

Fettes, Edinburgh
Client: Fettes College
Photographer:  Andrew Lee
Awards: 2017 Edinburgh Architectural Association Awards (EAA) – Shortlisted  /  2017 Scottish Design Awards – Education – Winner

“Harley Haddow provided a very professional service, always taking account of the requirements of our site wide energy strategy which is currently being developed. They also effectively addressed any environmental issues arising from the building works.” Phil Houghton, Fettes College




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