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Specifier's choice: Scottish Institute of Sport HQ, Stirling

Sutherland Lyall talks to Oberlanders Architects' Robert Turner about a project where the specification was maintained almost 100 per cent The Scottish Institute of Sport is a division of SportsScotland that provides and administers sports training infrastructure for Scottish athletes. Originally based at its parent's headquarters in Edinburgh, the institute decided to look for a site with attached existing sporting facilities.

Universities were obvious locations and Stirling, which has a good reputation for sports, was finally chosen.

The building is a joint venture between the university and Stirling council, on a site owned by the university to the west of the campus near existing sports facilities. There was a somewhat gothic house on the site dating from the 1930s and originally designed for two branches of the same family.

Interesting as this might be, the house was not obviously useful as it stood. Much of it was demolished, leaving a central core on either side of which new wings have been added. One of these is a single-storey block nestling to the north of the old core. It contains a small cafe, medical and training rooms and service spaces. To the east of the old block is a circular hub that serves as the reception area and as a link between the new facilities in the old building and the new single-storey office space to the south. This main office block has a zigzag roof with generous eaves and clerestory lights facing north. Its structure involved exposed steel columns, steel and timber beams and steel tension rods. Along the east wall are cellular offices. The open plan has a serrated perimeter on the west where the floor-to-ceiling glazing gives additional light to the office space and views across the lawns and the valley towards Stirling castle.

The old core has a long bow-ended boardroom at first-floor level facing south and across to the castle. This room sits over the director's office and administrative-staff space. On the first floor there is also a training room, WCs - and a plant room in the roof space over the main ground-floor training room.

Adjacent to the new cafe is a media room that opens out to a terrace, a suitable background for press photos. All the spaces are wheelchair-accessible, and there is a lift to the first floor of the old core.

Starting the engine The effective client was Stirling University's estates department. Fee bidding for the project was run by MPC Capita which became project manager, combining the roles of quantity surveyor and contract administrator. Job architect Robert Turner was comfortable with this. He says: 'We have done £300,000 jobs with project managers and £22 million jobs without. And, of course, we have had variable experiences.'

This one seems to have worked well. The choice of a standard JCT contract with single-stage tendering was arrived at by consensus. Turner says: 'We generally like to stick to traditional forms of procurement because everybody knows where they stand. And we use NBS. Practically everybody does.'

Everything his team specified was used except an integrated plumbing system (IPS) for the WCs. 'A different IPS from the one we specified was fitted, ' Turner says. 'You would like always to specify on quality but we're not at all unhappy with what we ended up specifying. And on the whole everything was done to the standard required.'

For drawings, as practically everybody does, Oberlanders used AutoCAD LT - here in its 98 incarnation.

Over and out The roof to the old building had to be partly re-slated using a mix of new slates and secondhand Scottish slates originally from one quarry at Ballachulish which had shut down (and reopened only several months ago). The new roofs are Speeddeck standing-seam profiled metal roofing laid over a sandwich of insulation and the Speeddeck purlin-and-lining package. The small areas of flat roofing are Sarnafil. Turner says: 'We were looking at a huge circular aluminium-framed rooflight. It was going to be too expensive so we opted for a big polycarbonate dome, the 2000 from Coxdome, ' which makes the biggest range.

With the exception of the west glazed zigzag wall of the office block, walling is in render and western red cedar cladding, the latter also being used for the solid sections of the clerestory lights in the sawtooth roof. The old building had been rendered in traditional sand-cement render, which was simply repainted. But the choice of Sto for the new walling was based on a value-engineering exercise by the main contractor, Mowlem.

Turner says: 'We believed it had to be an acrylic and we specified Sto not least because it is waterproof and the finishes are very fine in texture. We used the second finest they offer.'

The hub's curved walls are blockwork with Stotherm externally insulated render.

All the glazing, mostly with tilt-and-turn mechanisms, comes from the same manufacturer, NorDan. The architect was, naturally, interested in maintaining a standard appearance for all glazing elements and, happily, found that Nor-Dan could use the same profile for the full-height glazing on the west walls of the offices. Turner says: 'It looks like curtain walling but it's actually very big window frames.'

The external glazed doors have the same performance and use the same heavy sections, and are also aluminium-clad hardwood. Turner notes that in terms of price, appearance and performance, there is not much to choose between glazing systems.

The difference is that Nor-Dan has an integrated product range. The glazing on the west elevations is solar-control glass, and glare is reduced by having it tinted. Cladding consistency was maintained by fitting Colt 2UL/SH ventilation louvres into a standard window and door opening.

Concealing the offices mess Although it is a naturally ventilated space, the open office area needs a lot of computer cabling and air-extract ducting. There is an RMG 600 medium-grade raised floor from Hewetson Floors, with hot-air coils in a trough around the perimeter. The carpet tiles, in dark blue with some other colours, are Heathertred from the loyally named Scotmat from which, Turner says 'we always get very good service'.

Breaking a Specifier's choice architecturalironmongery mould, Turner's team specified the Orbis Series 7 range from IR Laidlaw which uses Ingersoll Rand locks. He says: 'We have gone to Laidlaw for a long time and have had very good service'. All internal doors are Leaderflush + Shapland doorsets which Oberlanders specifies a lot. A number of the doors, Turner explains, are fire doors, 'and fire-control officers are happiest with door sets.' The reason is that the dimensions of gaps between the door and the frame are knowable, having been established in the factory.

The slopes of the ceiling in the open offices are Gyproc's suspended MF system based on metal firrings which Turner's team was able comfortably to adapt. Elsewhere the grid ceilings are Ecophon Gedina E.

Holding up the ceilings is the open structural support for the roof. Truss supplier Donaldson & McConnell of Bo'ness had a particular issue to grasp in that the structural timber was to be the final finish. Turner had warned the company about this. He explains: 'We said this isn't your standard truss rafter. They did the shop drawings and the quality was very good - and we were very pleased with the quality of the roof trusses.'

The same applied to the steelwork, on which all the welds and joint details had to be visible. The steel was painted with Hammerite - there was no need for intumescent paint because the columns supported only the roof and not the walls, and because the whole area was single-storey.

The timber was treated with Sikkens Cetol TS interior. External timber was treated with Sikkens Cetol Novatech.

Inside the machine room Turner says: 'The client wanted as many natural materials as possible. We had a long list of them, some of which were lost in the preliminary cost exercise, but Forbo Nairn Marmoleum Dual lino survived for the corridors and the cafe. The main training room has a large glass rear wall by Tenon Partitions.

Frameless glass internal doors are Solaglas Designar Door A8 and the sliding-stacking panel partition is by Alco Beldan Visio 100.

The double folding entrance door is a Tormax External Foldor. The cafe has a JTC Craftsman contract kitchen, one high-quality step up from housing, in a bold deep blue colour.

Turner explains: 'It was a Sports Council requirement that we have accessible bathrooms.' So all the wet areas have non-slip PVC - Marine from Altro. They are fitted with Twyford's sanitary fittings and the wall tiles are Marazzi Citta with Schluter movement joints. These avoid the cracking problems of grout, and Oberlanders has used them successfully before.

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