Situated on an exposed North Wales peninsula between the Irish Sea and the Afon Erch river estuary, the stunning Welsh National Sailing Academy building is both an international centre of excellence for sailing and a multi-purpose event space for the local community.
Working with the Sailing Academy and the Gwynydd County Council, Ellis Williams Architects of Liverpool based the building’s unique design on the classic principle of ‘form following function’.
A unique spiral building design is centered on a large circular main hall, enabling fully rigged boats to be towed in and out with ease while being protected from the location’s strong coastal winds. Curved public terraces overlooking sailing competitions in the bay are situated to the more sheltered north western side, with a glazed café area offering stunning panoramic views of both the bay and the Snowdonia National Park beyond.
On the opposite side, a bar and terrace looks out towards the marina and estuary. A critical design criteria for the project was to maximize the amount of natural daylight entering the circular hall to assist in the preparation of sailing boats and their close scrutinizing by competition judges. To meet this requirement, Ellis Williams specified Danpalon® translucent polycarbonate panel cladding system for both the curved hall façade and the round hall roof.
To harmonize with the project’s extensive use of natural stone gabions, sea grass banking and treated softwood building materials clear (uncoloured) Danpalon® panels were selected and pre-treated with Softlite coating to limit light glare and achieve a subtle matt finish.
The translucent panels also enabled a variety of attractive night time building illumination effects to be achieved using energy-efficient coloured LED lighting, while its excellent thermal properties mean the central hall is able to function as an unheated event space.
With its unique and stunning aesthetic appearance, the Welsh National Sailing Academy has won a series of national architecture prizes including the RIBA Regional, LABC, ICE and CEW awards.