Scotland’s National Ballet Company integrated into a reinvigorated Tramway Arts Centre

City Strategy

The Glasgow City Council-run Tramway Arts Centre is an important resource, with major Theatre, Gallery and Community Garden spaces, but has sometimes struggled without an anchor organisation; while the highly-regarded Scottish Ballet had outgrown their home. 

Bringing them together on a still derelict corner of the old Tramway depot site reinvigorated the Tramway, while enabling Scottish Ballet to find a new home among friends.

View from the street- Scottish Ballet, Glasgow

CLIENT / Scottish Ballet and Glasgow City Council

ARCHITECT / Malcolm Fraser Architects

COMPLETION / June 2009

GROSS INTERNAL AREA / 5,776m2; 3 principal studios, wardrobe, music, offices for all and scenery and other technical workshops, plus community dance studios and alterations to the Tramway café and offices.

BRIEF AND CONSTRUCTION / headquarters of the National Company newbuilt into the old Tramway complex.

Smaller studio with dancers, piano and instuctors. Scottish Ballet, Glasgow. Malcolm Fraser Architects
Scottish Ballet, Glasgow - interior, woodlined court. Malcolm Fraser Architects
A court links layers of the building.
Pen drawing of entrance and interior court, Scottish Ballet, Glasgow. Malcolm Fraser Architects

An Integrated Company, a Layered Response

Most ballet companies separate technical and creative functions on different sites. Scottish Ballet believed their strength was grounded in unity, with all departments part of a shared vision.

Functions were stratified with: the technical areas, including the double-height Workshop, at ground level, easily accessible for get-outs; the administration, wardrobe and music areas on the first floor with a long, rising corridor accessing them from the Tramway entrance and café space; and the three huge rehearsal Studios sat above, flooded with diffused light.

Scenery lifts and principal circulation links the layers but, also, views link between, with a warm timber Court and Green Rooms off, as the beating heart of the building, from where big windows allow views down into the Workshop and up into the Principal Studio and its trapezoidal, eggcrate roof.

Scottish Ballet, wardrobe department
Creative and technical operations are on the same site.
Scottish Ballet, Glasgow. Golden, trapezoid roof forms. Malcolm Fraser Architects
Trapezoid roof forms flood the principal studio with diffused light.
Dance studio with piano, dancers, intstructor. Looking up to the roof
Pen sketch of roof forms - Scottish Ballet, Glasgow. Malcolm Fraser Architects

Materials that Work Hard, Materials that Warm

Ballet is art born of very hard work. Studios and workspaces are simple and robust, light and hard-wearing. Relaxation areas, such as the Court and Green Room are, in contrast, warm and relaxing, timber-lined.

Outside simple materials work hard too: pigmented, striated pre-cast concrete to the base course, anodised, gold and natural anodised silver aluminium, locally-rolled, above, as a glowing, modelled mass with big windows catching views and showing-off wardrobe and other areas, rising to the principal studio’s roof pyramids.

Scottish Ballet, central woodlined court
Timber lining brings warmth to areas for relaxation. Windows to working areas bring activities together.

Main Contractor / Carillion Construction; contract value £8.25m

MFA Team / Clive Albert, Niall Jacobson, Robin Livingstone, Hanne Vanreusel, Malcolm Fraser

Structural Engineer / Struer 

Services / Waterman

Costs / Capita

Acoustics / Sandy Brown

Scottish Ballet, Glasgow - exterior view from street. Malcolm Fraser Architects

Principal Awards

Scottish Design Awards, 2010

Architecture Grand Prix

Scottish Design Awards, 2010

Best Public Building

Glasgow Institute of Architects Award, 2010

Roses Design Award, 2010

Public Building

Further Information

Scottish Ballet