foster + partners: SSE hydro entertainment venue, scotland
all images courtesy of foster + partners
the foster + partners-designed ‘SSE hydro’ is set to open to the public on september 30th, with a concert by rod steward. the major new entertainment venue for scotland will accommodate an audience of up to 12,000 seated, and 13, 000 standing within its performance bowl.
wrapped in translucent ETFE cushions, a 1,400 tonne steel diagrid structure extends 120 metres over the amphitheatre–making it europe’s largest free-spanning roof–held aloft by an arrangement of angled concrete fins that support the tilted seating bowl – it has been conceived to bring the audience as close to the stage as possible, providing good viewing angles from all seats. additional interior programs include 11 hospitality boxes, two large VIP suites and a club seating level, all realized not only to adjust to a variety of concerts and and stage sets, but to host sporting events as well, particularly netball matches and gymnastics during glasgow’ 2014 commonwealth games.
the building is wrapped in translucent panels, making it one huge projection screen
the entirety of the auditorium’s façade is wrapped in lightweight translucent panels that can be illuminated, transforming the building into a beacon of color along the city’s waterfront. these will also allow ‘SSE hydro’ to function as a huge screen for projections, where every aspect of the state-of-the-art lighting system can be programmed, giving performers the creative freedom to shape the venue from inside out.
on the outer perimeter of the performance bowl, the edifice is more transparent, drawing natural light through, animating the structure from the movement of people around and within, as well as exposing the dramatic framework that supports the tiers of seating. these spaces are protected from solar gain by a frit pattern, applied to the ETFE cushions.
foster + partners was responsible for all aspects of the design, from the complexity of the roof structure to wayfinding. they worked closely with per arnoldi to create a primary colour palette for the circulation spaces, while cushioned seating was specially designed for the project in collaboration with the manufacturer. in wanting to reduce the energy demands of the building the firm has combined natural and mechanical ventilation into the scheme, whereby fresh air is drawn into the building from above entrances, and via ducts at higher levels.
the ‘SSE hydro’ is well connected with the district-wide public transport system, while its surrounding landscape will make it a new civic amenity. set back from the river, low concrete bank curves around the base of the arena, conceal catering and supporting spaces, providing an attractive green plinth for the public to engage with.
view of interior circulation