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A state of the art space for sports and fitness

Centre for Sports & Exercise

Centre for Sports Exercise6


University of Edinburgh





A major redevelopment of the University’s Pleasance Sports Complex, providing an elite performance weightlifting gym, cardio gym and dance studio.

The background

The Centre for Sport and Exercise occupies a collection of buildings on the edge of Edinburgh’s old town UNESCO world heritage site. The project required additional space to support the expansion of the existing sports centre whilst simultaneously tackling the fragmented and confusing circulation routes through the building.  

The development delivered unique new free weights training areas, cardio gym space, an aerobics and dance studio and a specialist performance gym for elite athletes along with an enlarged sports injury clinic.

Centre for Sports Exercise
Centre for Sports Exercise4

The design approach

An extension to the Centre took the form of a robust brick cube, befitting the industrial history of the site. The design features a zinc clad section which projects to allow panoramic windows to capture stunning views of nearby Arthur’s Seat.

The new building provides around nineteen hundred square metres of additional state-of-the-art sports conditioning and physical activity space, over three new levels of gym spaces.  

Along with the new extension, a new free weights gym and indoor archery range was created in a disused subterranean vault running beneath the existing building. A single feature staircase was incorporated into the extension, linking the multitude of levels across older parts of the building and rationalising the access routes throughout.

The University’s Pleasance complex, home to a number of major performance venues for the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival, provided an opportunity to design the new facilities to be fit for alternative use, as performance venues, which included considering additional occupancy and the inclusion of additional power provision and cabling for TV broadcasts.

Centre for Sports Exercise2

The impact

The University of Edinburgh's sporting heritage dates back over one hundred and sixty years and the institution is now firmly established among the UK’s top universities for its commitment to sports and wellbeing. The Centre for Sports and Excellence has been a flagship addition to this legacy which has enabled state of the art gym and sporting facilities to reach an even broader audience than before, from local community members to elite athletes.

The New Zealand All Blacks strength and conditioning coach Nick Gill said of the space: “We’re always on the road and this is the best facility we’ve ever had” whilst Springboks fitness coach Neels Liebel described the facility as “top, top, top class”.

Nick Gill & Neels Liebel

International rugby team coaches

David Mc Nabb Director of Architecture Leisure Custodial lead

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