Sitting on the edge of the historic Hay’s Dock in Lerwick, overlooking the Bressay Sound, the venue includes a multi-use auditorium, two cinema screens, recording studio, rehearsal rooms, multi media production suite, lecture theatre, education facilities and a cafe bar.
The architectural response reflects the tradition of simple, robust forms typical in such exposed locations, and echoes the materiality of the fishing industry buildings dotted along the waterfront.
The architect made a conscious decision to take inspiration from the surrounding warehouses rather than the domestic architecture of the islands. The two large wedges of accommodation turn their back on the water and each is covered by a long, monopitch roof.
The building has a hybrid structure, with steelwork supporting the long spans and heavy loads at the core of the building and exposed timber glulam beams supplementing the steel and carrying the outer skin.
Where the two roofs intersect, you find the entrance foyer to the front and the café and café gallery to the rear.
At this point the skin of the two boxes is cut back to open up views to the harbour and to light the foyer. In these two public areas the timber elements of the structure are exposed.
Deep glulam frames at close centres give the interior an ordered, even classical, elegance, the softness and warmth of timber contrasting strongly with the tough exterior.
The angular aluminium skin which wraps around and protects the acoustically sensitive spaces sits directly on the quay wall, ensuring a strong relationship with the water’s edge.
Two large ‘cuts’ in the external skin of the building create a protected entrance to the main foyer and a window to the café/bar allowing views out across Hay’s Dock. Internally, timber linings bring warmth to the public spaces and contrast with the external feel of the building.
As the visitor progresses from the foyer to café bar to auditorium, warmer materials such as exposed engineered timber structure, European oak linings, fabrics and softer lighting are gradually added to slow the pace of movement and create a welcoming atmosphere.
Executive architect: PJP Architects
Structural engineer: Elliott & Company
Services engineer: Harley Haddow
Quantity surveyor: David Adamson & Partners
CDM co-ordinator: PJP Architects
Acoustic consultant: Arup Acoustics
Venue consultant; Arup Theatre Consultants
Project manager: H James Nisbet
Main contractor: DITT Construction
Client:Shetland Arts Development Agency