One of the most architecturally astonishing additions to the world of architecture in more recent years is The Scottish Exhibition and Conference Center’s Clyde Auditorium. However, it is better known as “The Armadillo.” This structure was built in 1997 in Glasgow on the north bank of the River Clyde. In 1999, Glasgow received the distinguished “European City of Architecture and Design” award. The Armadillo has brought new life to the city and especially to the areas near the river. The architect of this particular building is Lord Foster of Norman Foster and Partners. As one can easily observe, Foster has created uniquely interesting work of art in the field of architectural design.
While the structure of the Clyde Auditorium is quite unusual, it is actually very practical. Firstly, the overall shape of the building enhances the acoustics within the building for a better experience for the audience. This is also the case of the Opera House of Sidney Australia. On a side note, these two structures are often compared to one another due to their unique designs and similar outwardly curved appearances. The idea of creating a better sound quality for the audience was the main goal in creating the structure; however, many other important characteristics were also included.
One of these is the fact that support beams and columns are not necessary within the structure. This allows for better visual entertainment for the audience in addition to the acoustic advancements. The lack of need for support on the interior is due to the design of the building’s peaked roof and layers of materials. This type of design also creates a window-less viewing in the auditorium which, obviously, does not allow natural light to creep in. This is much more practical for many performances or viewing that may need to utilize only artificial light within the building.
The modern design of this structure is also an effect of the materials that were used in its creation. A “special wafer-thin space-age titanium alloy” was used for the Armadillo’s exterior which creates a very sleek, modern feel that would be very difficult to achieve with any other material. This material is also very special because it does not corrode as many other types of building materials would over a long period of time. Overall, the structure and material of the Clyde Auditorium also allows the building to expand with intense sunlight or retract in times of colder temperatures. In other types of weather such as rain, both the elements of structure and the type of material, again, play a major role. The steeply sloping sides and the non-porous texture of the building allow the rain to fall easily into the drainage gulley at the bottom of the structure. In much the same way, any snow, ice, wind, or other weather phenomena would likely be unable to cause any major damage to the building.
The surrounding environment also plays a interesting role in the formation and fell of the Armadillo as a whole. Firstly, the structure can be most readily seen from the opposite side of the river at a side angle. From this standpoint, the building is made to look like several upturned ships standing up in the water of the River Clyde. The ships would be showing only the hull and they would be fitted into on another.
While this is not actually how the structure was created, it does offer a bit of history about the area. The land that the Armadillo now stands upon was once a dock on which ships and liners were once built. This gives the structure a great sense of history while also creating an extremely unique form as far as building go. The city began infilling the dock and in 1985 created the sixty-four acre lot that is now used for the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Center’s campus. As mentioned above, the Armadillo was added in 1997, however, it will not be the last structure. The same architect who designed this structure was also asked to create another building which has already been nicknamed “the jellyfish.”
One of the most startling aspects of the Clyde Auditorium is the size of the structure. The Armadillo can be seen from the sky and from nearly any place in the city of Glasgow due to its massive size. It houses three thousand people in three separate levels, and also includes several interior spaces which can be utilized for drinks, meetings, and other events. While the auditorium is completely windowless, the entire façade is made up of window panes which allow for a great deal of natural sunlight in the various sitting areas and meeting spaces. Also, the façade has an incredibly large exterior overhang which allows people to stand outside for tickets or taxis without the hassle of the wind, rain or any other weather problems which could occur.
Taken as a whole, the Armadillo creates a very unique response upon initial viewing. At first, it looks like- an armadillo, but upon further viewing the overwhelming size and design evoke an awe inspiring reaction. The modern feel, sleek lines, and incredible façade open the imagination to the beauty of being different.