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Sports Centre

Part 2 Project 1998
Ian Lowson
University of Huddersfield Huddersfield UK
Sports Centre

This project seeks to explore the design of a sports centre within the context of a university environment. The design tries to express contemporary technology(appropriate for a new university whilst establishing a powerful visual edge to the university campus.

Since funding is unreliable, the scheme is phased over ten years with extendibiliby and flexibility key objectives. These are resolved by establishing an initial structural framework which can be infilled with walls and floors as demand develops.

The site faces the busy Wakefield Road and Huddersfield Ring Road both dual carriageways which act as a link between the M1 and M62 motorways. Since much of the experience of the building is from the car windscreen, it is designed to have a strong 'motorway' appeal with powerfully expressed columns, beams and panels. The precedents are the work of Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Archigram Group, yet the design is contemporary in spirit with particular attention paid to environmental issues and CAD-based repesentation.

The Sports Centre has mixed-mode ventilation with solar assisted air movement between the sports hall's atrium and ancillary accommodation. The choice of steel, aluminium panels and glass as the main external materials reflects West Yorkshire's strong industrial past and responds to the new McAlpine Stadium (RIBA Building of the Year 1995) not far away. It is, therefore, rooted in its context culturally whilst offering a glimpse of the future for university architecture.

Ian Lowson


The design pushes at the frontiers of unversity architecture within the context of the inner city campus. It takes as a theme the 'sports centre' which is expressed in contemporary and uncompromising spirit. The site, alongside Peter Wormerley's 1972 original university center makes a powerful statement at the edge of the campus. It accepts the role of architecture as advertising for the university, using contemporary technology to communicate a modern message alongside the busy Wakefield Road.

Technology underpins the philosophy of the student with steel, aluminium, concrete and glass well understood in both practical and tectonic terms. There is a large measure of environment awareness and finesse in the disposition of elements and compositional arrangemnet. Natural ventilation is used well, and whilst the materials have high-embodied energy, the flexibility inherent in the design ensues that resources ar ewell used over time.

The design reflects the School's interest in combining vreen issues with contemporary design. Life-cylcle assessment and high architectural ambition are intefgrated attheroretcal level with aspects of sustainability explored in detail.

Although Ian Lowson's design owes a great deal to the influnce of renzo Piano, the concept is his own and the resolution of a complex brief (essential for RIBA Part 2) displays maturity.

The design thesis represents one semester of design work (unlike at most architecture schools) reinforced by a written thesis and preliminary studies. The intellectual rigour found in the design is evident too in the written work and analysis of precedents.

The award of Diploma in Architecture was made with Distinction. It is nominated because the project is the outstanding work of the year.

1998
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