The SSE Hydro joins the Clyde Auditorium on the northern edge of the River Clyde to create a new entertainment destination within the redevelopment of Glasgow’s former docks. A highly flexible indoor venue, the 12,500-capacity arena provides a combination of fixed, retractable and removable seating to enable a wide range of different staging and concert layouts – it can also be configured for a number of sporting events.
The building’s form is generated from the inside-out by the seating, which wraps around the stage above ground level and rises toward the front, optimising the viewing angle and drawing the audience closer to the excitement of the performance. The roof canopy follows this distinctive angled profile, rising away from the busy main road to the rear to reveal a dramatic 40-metre-high elevation to the south – its dramatic structure spans 120 metres in a shallow dome of diagonally latticed steelwork, weighing 1,400 tonnes. The facades are clad in translucent ETFE panels, onto which patterns and images can be projected, and which can be illuminated to make the building glow like a beacon for the new quarter at night. The main entrance is to the south of the arena, via a generous top-lit lobby. A second, fully glazed high-level atrium gives visitors panoramic views of the waterfront and leads to further facilities, including a dedicated VIP floor with boxes and club seats. The practice designed every detail, from the signage to the cushioned arena seats, which were developed specifically for the project with the manufacturer. The bold primary colour palette of the circulation spaces was devised in collaboration with graphic designer, Per Arnoldi.
Designed to reduce energy demands, the scheme combines natural and mechanical ventilation – fresh air is drawn into the building above the entrances, and vented at a high level. The SSE Hydro is integrated with the district-wide public transport and the surrounding landscaping provides a valuable new civic amenity – the building is set back from the river, opening up the water’s edge and framing a new public space between the arena and conference centre. In addition, a low concrete bank curves around the base of the arena, concealing catering and support spaces and providing an attractive green, landscaped plinth.