Architectural Technology Studio 3
Albert Greenhalgh,
Sheffield Hallam University

The project has been undertaken as the second phase of an existing phased development proposal by EXTREME, a global lifestyle brand and founder of the Extreme Sports Channel. The proposal is set to bring back to life the site of the previous Sheffield Ski Village located at Parkwood Springs, which was burnt down in 2012 and has since suffered multiple arson attacks. The brief for the project was to design an extreme sports facility with the main attraction being a 25m high ice climbing wall. Site constraints set out in the brief were that the existing ski slopes could not be constructed on and that the proposed building could not conflict with anything constructed in phase one of the development. 

Taking into account the key aspects of the site and project brief, the main drivers of the project were

  • The ice climbing wall being the main attraction of the facility and thus being situated centrally in the design where other visitors could have a view of the wall as they travelled through the building.
  • The visual impact of the building up close for those visiting the site and far away due to the exposure of the site for onlookers from varying locations around the city.
  • The view out of the Sheffield skyline from every level of the building, not just at the top where the event space is located.
  • The sustainability of the design in managing the high energy demands of maintaining a frozen atmosphere and what the immediate and extended environmental impact would be to site. Passivhaus standards are incorporated into the design to help minimise the cost of heating and cooling the building.

In taking a sustainable approach to the design and to also satisfy the project drivers, the success of the building came down to the primary structure which originally started as monolithic concrete frame. However, through material development and different approaches to make the building efficient, spacious and have a strong visual impact, it resulted in a repeating glulam frame construction with an in- situ concrete core. 

The concrete core encapsulates the ice climbing wall and, in the process, efficiently segregates the frozen atmosphere from the other internal spaces in the building where the glulam frame acts as a shell. The concrete core has windows on the outer wall where visitors can observe any ice climbing. Glulam is known for being able to span large distances and so was a suitable choice for the 11m spans which were needed to create the large, open spaces in the building for the internal and external activities, in order to provide a design which visually connected the spaces to one another. 

The aesthetic of the glulam frame is a repeating triangular pattern which creates a strong visual impact up close and from afar. The frame supports a curtain wall system manufactured by RAICO, which achieves passivhaus thermal standards. This helps maintain the internal thermal environment as well as provide the views out of the Sheffield skyline at every level of the building.The exposed site the building sits on make direct solar gains an issue. The proposal is to incorporate a dynamic façade which responds to the position of the sun and the internal temperature of the building throughout the day, at which point if it becomes too hot the façade will provide solar shading to reduce the amount of solar gains. This dynamic façade will also add to the visual impact of the building as it will impose a ‘live’ appearance which will be more interesting than static solar shading.


Judges' comments

The conceptually bold design and its complete technical resolution has been developed holistically which illustrates the nature and breadth of the Architectural Technology discipline. This complex design demonstrates immense creativity and a balance between the architectural design aesthetics and the technical design to create a unique form and structural solution. A sustainable MEP (services) strategy was selected to integrate with the structure and create the necessary comfort conditions in such a multi complex functional environment. The solution clearly demonstrated a deep and broad knowledge of the different and challenging aspects of this design project.

The judges concluded that the key criteria of functionality, inclusivity, sustainability and performance were comprehensively demonstrated, indicating a high level and rounded understanding of Architectural Technology and its place within design and architecture and the role and function of the Architectural Technologist.