Forth Valley College Falkirk represents the culmination of over a decade of redevelopment of Forth Valley College’s three campuses: Alloa, Stirling and Falkirk, the latter being the College’s headquarters facility. Each campus has been designed as a collaboration between Reiach and Hall Architects and horner+ maclennan, progressively exploring architectural and landscape responses to setting and context and providing a positive contribution to the urban fabric of each town. At Falkirk, the College design team progressed design proposals to RIBA Stage 3 as a specimen design which was then developed and delivered by a contractor-led implementation team.

The site of the College Campus occupies an edge of town location, fronting one of the major approaches into Falkirk from the M9 motorway, and providing a major opportunity to contribute to a new urban built and landscape public frontage to the local townscape. The architectural design and layout of the College was a key factor in the landscape design of the spaces around the building.

The landscape approach focusses on establishing an appropriate setting to the new Campus in relation to its landscape context, whilst aiming to create a pleasant learning environment for students. This approach responds to four main areas of the site:
• The public realm frontage of the building facing Grangemouth Road
• The main building entrance frontage and forecourt
• The landscape treatment of the car parking areas and their approach routes to the building
• The service court and other external spaces.

A linear parkland edge wraps around the public realm frontage of the building, combining existing retained trees, new parkland trees, groups of multi-stemmed birch and bands of perennial planting to create colour and seasonal interest in a sequence of spaces between the public street and the building. Existing retained trees at the junction of Grangemouth Road and Middlefield Road within a retained area of higher ground become a key landscape feature at this important intersection.

A public forecourt provides vehicular drop off, accessible and visitor parking within a clearly defined area separate from the main college car park. The forecourt acts as a raised plinth to the building and connects with the main entrance plaza. Avenue tree planting clearly structures the layout of the space and reinforces the main pedestrian route to the entrance to the building. Bands of aromatic planting on the approach route introduce colour and sensory interest.

Tree avenues and hedge/decorative grass plantings break down the scale of the staff /student parking area, which is structured to create a central avenue approach to the northern entrance to the building. The planting assists in structuring pedestrian circulation within the car park and minimises the impact of a large number of cars on the surrounding area and in views from the building.

The strategic layout of the site clearly separates service access from staff, student and visitor areas, with the service yard comprising a simple utilitarian space, screened from views from Grangemouth Road.
The layout of the building and main car parking area creates a major east-west axis through the centre of the site, forming a ‘green link’ offering a pedestrian connection eastwards to the parklands and attractions of The Helix and The Kelpies and westwards to future development sites and the town centre. Formal groups of birch trees set within an informally arranged sequence of planting beds of native and ornamental ground covers and perennial plantings form a major defining element to its overall character.
The three courtyards within the building are given distinctive minimal treatments, each focussing on a key plant type as its defining feature – bamboo; flowering dogwood; magnolia. The northern and central courts offer spill out space for study, relaxation or discussion, whilst the southern court is predominantly paved with seating as an extension to the refectory and café.

The project represents a simple, considered sensibility to site planning and the layout of the site. A fruitful collaboration between landscape architect and architect creates a functional yet inspiring setting and character to the new campus which supports the College’s focus on excellence both in educational provision and the campuses which host this.

AJ Architecture Awards – Higher Education Building of the Year 2021
Scottish Design Awards – Education Building of the Year 2021
RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award 2022 – Shortlisted
RIBA Stirling Prize 2022 – Shortlisted
RIBA National Award 2020

Other landscape architecture offices involved in the design of landscape:
Architecture offices involved in the design:


Design year: 2014-15

Year Completed: 2019 – COLLEGE OPENED JANUARY 2020


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