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he new Harris Academy in Dundee

was designed as a replacement to

the old Academy, which comprised

four buildings: the main school

building, built in 1931; the west annexe and

music blocks, built in the late 1960s; and

the games hall. Although the public were

keen to retain the original building, it had

unfortunately reached the end of its useful

life and a new purpose-built school was

proposed. Extreme care was taken in the

design of the new school to ensure that it

fitted in with the residential surroundings

and did not stand out too much within the

conservative surroundings. However, both

the design team and the client were keen

to create a landmark school, with modern

facilities that would encourage Dundee’s

young people to achieve their goals.

The topography of the site is extremely

complex. There is a 17m level difference

(approximately) between Perth Road on the

northern boundary and the heavily wooded

embankment at the south of the site. The

new school was designed to take advantage

of this with a split-level entry – two storeys to

the front, so as not to extend higher than the

original building, and four storeys to the rear.

The new structural frame takes cognisance

of the building scale as well as the complex

interaction with the varying levels across

the site. Floor levels were predominately set

to interface with the surrounding ground

levels. The split between front and rear was

Harris Academy, Dundee

Above: Exterior of

new school building.

(Photos:Gillian Hayes Dapple


Harris Academy is a newschool building located in the centre of Dundee.

Designed as a replacement to the original iconic 1930s school, the new

building is a four-storey post-tensioned concrete frame designed to be

equally iconic and has exploited concrete in various forms to its very best.