Architects: Populous Location: Ravenscraig, Motherwell, UK Engineering: Buro Happold (structural, civil, mechanical, electrical and public health services) FEDRA (fire) Client: North Lanarkshire Council / Sportscotland / Ravenscraig Ltd / Motherwell College Total Cost: £31.3 million Completion Date: Autumn 2010 Photographs: Andrew Lee
PROJECT OBJECTIVE: The clients commissioned the design team to design a new Regional Sports Facility as part of Sportscotland and the Scottish Executive’s National Regional Facilities Strategy. The proposed sports facility will host local, regional and national sports and leisure events as well as cultural events.
The new sports facility will reach out to the surrounding areas by addressing the local planning strategy and creating both cultural and visual links to and from the site.
There has been a determined effort to make reference to the history of the site through the architectural language of the new facility. This influenced the choice of materials and the expression of the buildings structure which create a link to the steel industry that has had such a strong cultural presence on this site and within the local community. Its cladding has been designed as metal bands that rise from out of the ground to wrap around the structure, and are a visual reminder, reminiscent of rolled metal sheets.
The new building has a north-south orientation with the entrance at the southern elevation. This main entrance relates directly to the two most important areas of public activity in the new masterplan, the town centre and the proposed new Motherwell College. Visual links to these areas are gained from the dance studios and gym area as well as from the main entrance and public café. The glazing also acts as a shop front for the facility, enticing people into the building.
The concept behind the serrated roofs is to allow diffuse, northern light to enter the facility all year round without the glare that comes from direct sunlight, which is a hindrance to the sportswomen and men using the facility. By providing as much natural light it will minimise the inherent dependence on artificial lighting which projects that have large enclosed areas often require; meaning that the annual energy costs will be reduced, limiting the buildings carbon footprint and enhancing the ambience and tranquillity of the spaces. The building’s sustainability credentials are also increased by its combined heat and power system and large build-ups of insulation, a move aimed at reducing the acoustic break-out as well as keeping the heat in. The north elevations of the two main halls are glazed to a height of 3.5 meters, with the rest of the elevation filled with opaque polycarbonate panels; this allows for uninterrupted vistas over the nearby Prospect Hill, South Calder, Cleekhimin and Carfin areas.
The large open ends of the halls visually peel back the spaces and create the impression of a sheltered hollow within the natural landscape rather than an enclosed structure. Making the building appear to dissolve into the landscape gives the occupant a sense of being outdoors. Through the north lights and the abundant use of natural light, this atmosphere is maintained throughout. As well as the vistas created from the inside looking out there are also views constructed internally that are used to connect the different spaces across the entire facility. Access to the sports facility site is from the southern street, directly in front of the building’s main entrance. All vehicular transport is directed to the car park with only an allowance for dda, parent and child and a drop off area directly outside the entrance, with the possibility of an area for a car pool, should the users require it. The layout allows a high level of interaction between the athletes and the public through the use of common areas amidst the internal spaces and centralised gathering zones between the halls. There is also the idea that athletes can learn from each other’s disciplines.
This led to the creation of constructed views through the facility that provide inspiration for the athletes, as well as the general public. The complex is notionally divided into three main building blocks; the football and sports hall to the east, the athletics hall to the west and the central changing rooms and reception area. The changing areas are the most actively used spaces within the building and are used as the backbone of the complex allowing users to gather centrally to access their desired facility directly.
THE FOOTBALL HALL. This is the largest space in the facility, measuring 105m x 71m with an uninterrupted height of 18m at the centre and 10m around its perimeter. The orientation allows direct access to the changing rooms for athletes, and access to the entry lobby for spectators. The football hall is open to views from the café, the viewing gallery and athlete’s interaction zone. The northern façade can be opened along the glazed bottom 3.5m to allow access in and out of the hall and extra ventilation. There are approximately 400 spectator seats along the western side of the hall with access from behind the seating allowing an uninterrupted 3m buff er zone between the pitch and the spectators. The facility has been designed fi rst and foremost as a sports complex. However there is a desire to use the large enclosed area of the Football Hall for alternative events. The hall can cater for up to 5,000 people attending concerts, exhibitions or sports events with equipment and stage facilities.
THE ATHLETICS HALL. This is the second largest volume in the facility and is located on the west of the complex. It has an approximate dimension of 25m x 135m and a clear height of 9m, rising to 12.3m. It is overlooked from the reception area, café, office area and the athlete’s interaction zone, helping to enhance the idea of integration. The hall is directly accessed from the changing and reception area. There is the capability to open up the hall along the northern façade to allow further runoff for wheelchair athletes and extra air flow and machinery access. The layout has been designed for maximum diversity and flexibility throughout the daily, and annual, use of the building.
THE GYM AND DANCE STUDIOS. These are located next to the reception area at ground and first floor level, connected by a double height atrium and ‘sky-bridge’. It can be accessed directly from the reception and is a short walking distances from the changing rooms. The dance studios are linked both visually and physically to the gym area encouraging strong connections between the two activities.
THE SPORTS HALL. Located at the south east corner of the building it has a clear uninterrupted space of 54m x 27m with a height of 9.2m and has been designed specifically to allow for badminton, basketball, handball, netball and volleyball but could accommodate a range of sports. It has the ability to be divided into thirds allowing greater flexibility. Along its length it has a swath of retractable seating and a first floor viewing gallery.
The form of the building sits like a sculpture in a parkland setting, rising out of the landscape and then diving back into the site. This merging between the natural and built environment is a major theme within the overall design ethos. The external landscaping ties the building and outdoor football pitches into the ‘greenbelt’ landscape to the north of the site and accommodates the car parking in an aesthetic setting in line with the overall master plan for Ravenscraig. Within this landscape an external play and activity area for children and youths is incorporated within the facility.
RAVENSCRAIG NEW TOWN. The wider context of the Ravenscraig site is being developed as part of the Ravenscraig Masterplan. The major objectives are:
• To establish a long-term strategy for the area in partnership with North Lanarkshire Council and other relevant stakeholders. • To be compatibile with the aims and objectives of the Masterplan and outline consent of May 2005. • To create a high quality, recreational arena and supported facilities which will provide facilities to both local residents and people from outside the area. • To encourage walking and cycling by providing a strong pedestrian link to the site. • To create a strong sense of place and distinct identity for Ravenscraig.
The APB3 Concept. As part of the APB3 concept that covers the site of the new facility, any infrastructure will benefit not only the future residents of Ravenscraig and the surrounding communities but also provide a major venue for attraction of events capable of serving the whole central belt.
The landmark building will act as a focus for the new town of Ravenscraig and will create a link with the adjacent town centre.
Five key elements of the APB3 concept are: Recreational/Event activity Strong landscape element Visually attractive, high quality landmark building Accessibility Self contained parking provision