Architect Sara Burgess takes a closer look at the development of the Skelton Lake roof ribbons
Currently being planted with native meadow species, signaling the final stages in the development of the roof ribbons at the new Motorway Service Area (MSA) in Leeds, Architecture 519’s Sara Burgess considers the progression of this primary building feature from the original concept design.
This recent photograph shows the Skelton Lake roof ribbons awaiting planting.
Linking to the landscape
In Architecture 519’s first visits to the site, we investigated the wider area to gain an understanding and appreciation for the landscape and surroundings. Considering views of the site from points including Temple Newsam House and Skelton Lake, close to the River Aire, we recognised that the building should physically and visually connect to the landscape to take advantage of the setting. Wider views of the site demonstrated the layering and horizontal emphasis of the surrounding area where the land is formed in a series of ribbons to the north and south of the site.
Establishing the roof ribbon signature
The appearance of the ribbons in the landscape is used to derive the concept of the over-sailing roof form which unifies the primary building and hotel whilst reinforcing the impression of the MSA nestling in the valley of the surrounding area. The development of the curved and overlapping ribbon roof form helps anchor the building and connects the structure to the landscape, whilst creating a dynamic and striking form.
A photograph taken during an initial site visit illustrates the appearance of ribbons in the landscape.
Early models created by Sara show the development of the roof concept.
The perception of the roof ribbons emerging from the ground is enhanced by details within the landscape to each end of the primary ribbons. This grounding detail is composed of locally sourced dry stone walling and is thickly planted at high level to ensure the roof cannot be climbed on. This also creates the impression of the roof meeting the landscape and delivers a seamless view when the building is seen from a distance.
Development of the roof structure
The continuous and undulating structure of the roof ribbons has been achieved using curved glulam beams. Alternative structural solutions were considered during the design development, however the glulam structure ensured the flowing form we envisaged was achieved, further integrating the scheme with the surroundings and also bringing a warm, natural tone to the internal spaces and the central atrium and viewing area at the heart of the building. This key principle has been reinforced from the initial concept stage, through planning approval to the delivery of the building on site.
A wider understanding
Having worked with Extra Motorway Services on several previous projects, Architecture 519 has a commercial understanding of large-scale motorway service areas and the way in which different elements, such as the fuel filling station, parking and amenity buildings, should be distributed in relation to each other and the site access points. Design of the site masterplan with links from the M1 via a new roundabout and connections to the site from other routes ensured we were able to look at the wider development and the role of the roof ribbons in drawing the site together.
Following the initial design stages, members of the Architecture 519 team have continued to work with Extra Motorway Services, whilst our technical team took on detailed design work with the primary contractor, Morgan Sindall. This collaborative structuring led to a flow of conversation between the client, Architecture 519 and the contractor that has maximised opportunities for the successful delivery of the site in accordance with the original design concept.
An early CGI visual of the roof ribbon form.