Drone racing arena and VR test site planned for Dundee


The winning proposal for a new meeting space inspired by Dundee’s digital and creative industries has been unveiled.

London-based architecture practice Studioshaw has won a competition, sponsored by Scottish Enterprise and the Dundee Institute of Architects, to design the facility at Seabraes on the city’s waterfront.

The space would include a drone racing arena for the public and local drone enthusiasts to compete, social areas, bars and restaurants allowing workers in the sector to meet and exchange ideas, and digital screens offering opportunities for local theatre companies.

The proposal also envisages the ability to prototype virtual reality technologies in the open-air.

“Within the technology industries, prototyping is incredibly important; to test, get feedback, iterate and collaborate,” said Mark Shaw, the firm’s founder. “There is a constant need for people to participate and give feed back to these innovations in order to make these products viable to take to the market.

“Mobile technology means that we can now connect everyone in the city together. This technology allows us to explore the physicality of the city, and Pokemon-Go and Google maps are examples of this.

“Our  proposal is for a sunken, covered external space and a tower of work and meeting spaces, providing a new physical home for the new digital and creative industries in the city.

“The architecture responds to this, giving a beacon for associated partners and creating a universal ‘icon’ which we felt was missing from the masterplan.

“The tower offers amazing views of the Firth of Tay and adjacent city centre. The covered space is highly flexible and can host a wide variety of functions.”

The Seabraes Yards Sketch Design competition was run as part of the 2016 year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.

Dundee is renowned for its expertise in digital media and creative industries. More than 350 businesses in the sector, employing more than 3300 people, are currently based in Dundee and the surrounding area generating a combined annual turnover in excess of £185m.

Seabraes is intended to build on these successes by becoming a hub for the digital media and cultural industries, incorporating both commercial and residential space.

A former railway goods yard in ‘District 10’, it is part of Dundee’s £1bn regeneration of its waterfront. It is within walking distance of the University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee Contemporary Arts and the University of Abertay Dundee.

Next year, the V&A Museum Of Design Dundee will open – the first design museum built in the UK outside London. Sited at the heart of the waterfront, it will host major exhibitions, celebrate Scotland’s design heritage and promote innovation.