Case Studies

- Pwllheli Welsh National Sailing Academy

Pwllheli Welsh National Sailing Academy


Danpalon Facade Cladding and Roofing in a Stunning New Building
A combined international centre of sailing and multi-purpose event space needed to tackle the environmental challenges presented by its coastal location, while responding to the varied needs of its different user groups. Danpalon® played a major role in enabling the new building’s unique design.

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The Welsh National Sailing Academy, Pwllheli was conceived to achieve two clear objectives: to provide Wales with a state-of-the-art international centre of excellence for sailing and to provide the local community with a flexible multi-purpose event venue.

Working closely with the Academy and Gwynedd County Council, Ellis Williams Architects made Everlite Concept’s Danpalon polycarbonate cladding and roofing panel system a key component in its innovative building design.


Pwllheli Wesl National Sailing Academy 5Situated on an exposed North Wales peninsula between the Irish Sea and the Afon Erch river estuary, the Academy building project presented the architects with a unique set of design challenges:

  • Although with a predominantly south- westerly bias, the strong coastal wind directions the building needed to contend with were highly
  • The building needed to serve both the beach and training bay on the eastern side of the peninsula and the Marina and events compound on the western
  • It also needed to provide easy access for four distinct visitor groups: the general public, sailors, the sailing boats and event delivery
  • A central multi-purpose space was needed that would be able to accommodate fully rigged sailing boats and provide a high level of natural light for preparing boats and scrutinising by competition



Based on the classic principle of ‘form following function’, Ellis Williams Architects produced a unique spiral building design centred on a large circular main hall, enabling boats to be towed in and out with ease while being protected from the variable wind conditions.

Curved public terraces overlooking sailing competitions in the bay are situated to the more sheltered north western side, with a glazed café area offering stunning panoramic views of both the bay and the Snowdonia National Park beyond. On the opposite side, a bar and terrace looks out towards the marina.

Crucially, in order to maximize the amount of natural daylight entering the circular main hall and the public viewing gallery above, the architect specified Everlite’s Danpalon translucent polycarbonate panel cladding system for both the eliptical hall façade and the roof.

To complement the project’s extensive use of natural stone gabions, sea grass banking and treated softwood building materials clear (uncoloured) Danpalon panels were selected and pre-treated with Everlite’s Softlite panel finish to limit light glare and achieve a subtle matt finish.

With a mechanical strength more than capable of withstanding the strongest winds sweeping the North Wales peninsula, the Danpalon system also gave the architects the opportunity to install coloured LED lighting for building illumination at night.

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Using the Danpalon panel system for both facade cladding and roofing has ensured a consistently high quality of natural light in the Sailing Academy’s central hall and public areas, irrespective of the prevailing weather conditions. The need for artificial lighting has been minimised as a direct result.

The flexibility of the product’s fast-install, modular construction has been demonstrated to its fullest extent in its application to the architect’s exquisitely curved spiral façade and circular roof design.

Danpalon has also enabled a variety of attractive night time building illumination effects to be achieved using energy- efficient coloured LED lighting, while its excellent thermal properties mean the central hall is able to function as an unheated event space.

Since its opening the academy has hosted a series of national, European and world sailing events and in its first year attracted more then 30,000 visitors from over 42 countries, having a very positive impact on the local economy.

With its unique and stunning aesthetic appearance, the Welsh National Sailing Academy has won a series of national architecture prizes including the RIBA Regional, LABC, ICE and CEW awards.

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