Our design process started with the simple idea of a child wandering through the woods finding a magical building, unlike anything they’ve seen before, where amazing things happen.
Alex Fergusson said about Ryan Giggs, “the first time I saw him, he was 13 and just floated over the ground like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind.” – A memorable image. The need for a memorable image was apposite to Oriam – it forms the backdrop to frequent news stories and interviews and visually projects an image of Scotland to the wider world.
In 2010 the New Journal of Physics published an article about Roberto Carlos’ magical free kick against France in the 1997 Confederations cup, which showed that the ball’s trajectory followed the path of an equiangular spiral.
We used the spiral as the basis for the design of the roof over the indoor pitch. An armature of curved primary and secondary steel was then designed to increase the effect of the overall shape of the roof. The roof has an unusual and memorable appearance, a strangeness of form, created by simple geometric elements combined in a new way.
To encourage participation in sport and to help improve performance, the spaces in Oriam needed to be inspiring and enjoyable. Generous levels of daylight and scale, combined with a clarity of plan create vibrant, welcoming and inspirational environments in all areas of the building. The sports on offer are visually and physically accessible as people travel through the building. Long vistas, high degrees of transparency and visual interconnectivity were primary concerns. The design has a simple diagram. Two routes run east west through the building – a public route to the north and a high performance route to the south, which allows the two areas to operate autonomously. The main public route embraces the Victorian brick wall, whose rich red complements the bright blue of the games hall facing it.
Materials and Specification
Modern sports centres are built using the same technology as modern warehouses and supermarkets. Scale and budgets preclude using noble materials like brick or stone. This can present difficulties in terms of integrating the large buildings into a city or its periphery. Oriam is a steel framed building clad with composite insulated panels, uPVC and thermoplastics. The structural floors are concrete, ceilings and floors are plasterboard or perforated metal. The materials are economic, robust and long lasting.
The use of insulated multi-walled polycarbonate cladding instead of glazing in large areas of the building provides abundant, controlled daylight whilst achieving higher insulation values than possible with glazing. Importantly, it is also highly reflective which helps the building to sit comfortably within its woodland context.
Several measures to ensure high levels of energy efficiency were introduced to the design:
Wherever practically possible the building is naturally ventilated. The indoor pitch, the largest of its type in Europe, has a volume of 231840 m³, is unheated and entirely naturally ventilated. The ventilation provided by high level vents that run across the gables and lower level vents that run the length of the sides of the hall where the roof meets the walls. The games hall which encloses a volume of 20975m³, is ventilated through the openable rooflights that run the length of the games hall.
The use of translucent cladding and roofing materials to the indoor pitch hall means that for the majority of the year no artificial lighting is required during daylight hours. The fitness suite has windows running the full length of the space and also benefits from a translucent polycarbonate end wall which also sheds light into the dining area at first floor level. Four lines of rooflights running the full length of the games hall also ensure that generous levels roof daylight keep the need to turn the lights on to a minimum.
Even the high performance changing rooms have natural light and a view out created by the careful placement of a clerestory windows above the changing benches.
Enhanced insulation thicknesses were installed over large areas of the building to balance the thermal performance of the building, with the desire to introduce large areas of windows throughout the design. Low energy light fittings and LED lighting are fitted throughout as are extensive occupancy led control and operation (PIR’s).
Landscaping and outlook
The site had numerous important landscape features that were incorporated and rejuvenated by the design of the new building.
To the east the old pinetum had become neglected and overgrown. It was refurbished and tidied up as part of the design of the approach to the building. The walled garden was effectively re-presented as a garden that can be used for informal sports activities. A future phase of landscaping will see further planting to take place in the walled garden including a tunnel created from crab apple trees, a fountain and numerous intimate places to sit defined by benches and hedges.
The landscaping to the south and west of the building is primarily concerned with transit to and from the numerous sports pitches. The offices for the SFA and other sports bodies are placed at the upper level of the southern part of the building, firmly rooted between views to the outdoor pitches to the south and the indoor pitch to the north. The café and dining areas benefit from views over the walled garden to the west and the games hall to the east.