Foster + Partners just unveiled their latest achievement: the SSE Hydro. It’s not a dam or a submarine – It’s Scotland’s largest purpose-built public event arena, and it will see some of the world’s biggest musicians and acts in the coming years. Built on the site of the former Queen’s Dock, SSE Hydro is the only UK venue of its scale built specifically for concerts. It also features lightweight, translucent wall panels, and natural ventilation system to reduce its energy demand. “Its design strengthens connections to the River Clyde and will be central to the Queen’s Dock redevelopment – its series of new public spaces will bring the riverfront to life and open it up for all to enjoy,” say Foster + Partners.

Hydro flyover from Frame on Vimeo

With a seating capacity of over 12,000, there’s nothing small or fragile about the SSE Hydro. Anytime you build a structure with that kind of capacity, there’s bound to be serious resource and energy consumption. However, Foster + Partners did their best to include design strategies that would minimize the Hydro’s carbon footprint.

The seating bowl is shaped like an amphitheater and enclosed by a 1,400-ton lattice steel roof and wrapped in translucent ETFE cushions. Foster + Partners say that “… the façade is more transparent to draw in natural light, animating the building with the movement of people and exposing the dramatic structure that supports the tiers of seating within. The spaces are protected from solar gain by a frit pattern, applied to the ETFE cushions.”

In addition to daylighting, the Hydro combines natural and mechanical ventilation to reduce energy demands. “Fresh air is drawn into the building above the entrances, and vented at a high level” creating a breeze to cool sweaty concert goers without using extra energy. “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 to frame a new public space between the arena and conference centre,” continues the same release.

The SSE Hydro will open to the public with a concert by Rod Stewart on September 30th.

+ Foster + Partners

+ SSE Hydro

Images via The Hydro Facebook Page