Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners, 1966-1967 with later additions, including block to S 1993 (John Richards, partner-in-charge; Gerrard Bakker, project architect; Frank Clark, landscape designer). Set of 6 linked extensive rectangular-plan single storey Modernist teaching blocks of modular design (including main lecture theatre, crush hall, and cafeteria), with single double height space to each block, running E to W with perpendicular glazed corridor blocks running N to S enclosing small courtyards, all on ground stepped up to N arranged as terraces and in picturesque landscape setting. Deep platform canopy to main entrance (SE); overhanging platform roof. Steel-framed construction; with custom designed prefabricated construction system. Narrow base course clad with timber panelling; continuous horizontal runs of windows at ground floor with slightly advanced narrow vertical I-beams. Deep overhanging fascia above, clad in concrete panels with exposed (Flagrica) aggregate. Main entrance deeply recessed beneath canopy with similar fascia to S elevation.
Predominantly plate glass in long rectangular red pine casement windows; some fixed pane glazing extending full width of structural bays. Felted platform roof; raised felt clad water tanks. Aluminium flues. Concealed rainwater goods.
INTERIOR: simple Modernist interior characterised by exposed blond timber and large windows. Various rooms throughout linked by central corridors running E to W in each terrace; each individual terrace linked by series of corridors running N to S. 2-storey crush hall to SE of plan with horizontal glazing to upper section. Blockwork and demountable partition walls throughout. Suspended ceilings with integrated lights.
Statement of Special Interest
An outstanding example of post-war Modernist architecture, widely recognised as of international significance and fine example of tertiary education building of post-war period completely responsive to parkland landscape setting, with highly flexible plan form intermingling interior and exterior spaces with multiple internal courtyards. The architects provided a simple Modernist treatment to the interior with high quality materials, in particular red pine wood framing and finishes. Sympathetic later extension has not altered the original character of the building, and extensions have been carefully designed with detailing derived from the original building. The building exploits its natural setting with a discreet form and carefully controlled internal and external vistas. The relationship with the landscape and the aesthetics of the building were highly influenced by contemporary Danish design, most notably the Louisiana museum of Modern Art by Jorgen Bo and Wilhelm Wohlert. The design was also influenced by contemporary work within the practice and shares a common focus on horizontality and connection to the landscape as the design for the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh (see separate listing at category A). The concept of a flexible and adaptable space as pioneered by the design of Pathfoot was influential and was adapted by Norman Foster in the Willis Corroon building (1974 -5) in Ipswich (Grade I listed). The idea of a flexible space conformable to changing needs drew directly on ideas from Pathfoot where the designers felt that the blockwork partitions could be easily demolished and rebuilt as required by changing needs. Foster switched concrete blockwork for demountable partitions but retained the same idea of an adaptable space.
Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners, were among the leading architects' practices in Scotland dominating the architectural scene from the late 1950s onward. With Robert Matthew as their founder, and with later influential partners such as John Richards they produced some of the most highly regarded buildings of the post-war period in Scotland, the UK and abroad. They made a particular impact on institutional architecture and are responsible for important university schemes at Dundee, Edinburgh, York, Bath and Coleraine. John Richards is particularly revered in Scotland for his design for the Royal Commonwealth Pool (1967-1970, listed category A) which Pathfoot predates only slightly and is largely similar in its concise architectural expression.
Pathfoot was the first building designed and built for the University of Stirling and from its inception was meant to house all the new institution's needs before the rest of the campus - the social and teaching buildings and the rest of the residences - was completed. Pathfoot was completed in time for the opening semester in 1967, less than a year after ground was broken. Part of its success was due to the unique prefabricated building system developed by the practice which could be assembled in any order and the floor was not dependent on the framing system. This innovation was a milestone in construction terms for the Edinburgh practice and would influence their design and building process at Aberdeen and Edinburgh airports.
Stirling University was the only 'New University' to be built in Scotland and was part of the wider government agenda to develop and expand tertiary education near small urban centres across the UK, leading up to and the following recommendations made by the seminal Robbins Report Higher Education of 1963. Stirling was chosen along with Sussex, Warwick, Kent, York, Essex, Lancaster, East Anglia, all of which were set in parkland. The planning and design of Stirling University benefited from being conceived in the later 1960s once lessons of the first university schemes had been learned. For example, at Stirling, the perceived elitist agenda of the first schemes modelled on the Oxbridge formula of cloisters and segregated social and departmental areas (as pre-conceived by a master-plan), had expanded to a completely flexible, non-rigid set of buildings which could accommodate shifting patterns of inter-departmental teaching and allow for more casual social interaction among the student population.