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Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events Centre, Pwllheli

Has brought together various disparate groups

Credit: Hufton+Crow

Ellis Williams Architects for Gwynedd Council (YGC) with acknowledgement to Plas Heli Cyf

Contract value: £4.5m

GIA: 1600m2

RSAW Client of the Year: Gwynedd County Council (YGC)


This sailing academy and flexible space has been used by a whole host of local groups, businesses and schools and has attracted over 30,000 visitors in its first year.

The tracking patterns of boats on trailers define the circular main hall. Looking into this from the first floor are a café, bars and viewing balconies which wrap round the main hall, and look out towards the estuary and the mountains beyond.

  • Credit: Hufton+Crow
  • Credit: Hufton+Crow
  • Credit: Hufton+Crow
  • Credit: Hufton+Crow

The building has been partially buried, as if engulfed by grassed sand dunes which, with their terraced continuations, create an amphitheatre. Above it all sits the observation and control tower, from where race starts and finishes can be organized and monitored. Polycarbonate clads the upper portion of the drum of the unheated main hall to give diffused light; below gabion baskets are filled with local stone. The balconies and areas of cladding are faced with carefully detailed Kebony.

The building works on many levels and has brought together various disparate groups from the locality to provide a genuine centre for the community.

See other winners of the RIBA Regional Awards 2016 – Wales


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