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Best use of timber 2012 shortlist – Heriot’s Centre for Sport and Exercise

Name of building
Heriot’s Centre for Sport and Exercise
Date Completed
January 2012
Building type
George Heriot’s School, Edinburgh
LDN Architects
George Heriot’s Trust
Main contractor

John Dennis and Company Ltd


The Project

Located in Edinburgh’s Old Town Conservation Area, the site is bounded on two sides by Greyfriars Graveyard, and a restricted view of it can also be seen from the Castle Esplanade. The building attempts to imitate the mass of the previous building by broadly staying within the form presented to Greyfriars Graveyard. The new building also respects the existing stepped nature of the site with a retaining wall running across the full width.

Previously, physical education was taught in a variety of spaces in the school, of varying appropriateness. The objective of the new building was to create a first class indoor sports facility for the school. The new building provides facilities previously lacking in the school and allows physical education to be taught in custom made, modern spaces.

Use of Timber

There was a desire that these spaces should have a feeling of richness and warmth that can be lacking from sports hall spaces; the use of an exposed timber structure and cladding was a logical step within the design process.

Developed in conjunction with the Structural Engineer and subsequently the suppliers, Finnforest Merk of Germany, the engineered timber structure system ‘Kerto’ was utilised for the structural frame and laminated structural timber panel system ‘Leno’ for the structural deck of the roof, both of which are exposed within each of the two sports spaces.

The spaces are clad in Birch plywood in a combination of solid panels at low level and perforated acoustic panels at high level. This materiality is also continued through the other teaching spaces and the main circulation space so providing a unified palette of materials and continuous feeling throughout the building.

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