ORIAM sounds like a team name from Only Connect or the tag of the latest You Tube sensation. Instead the hope is it will become the finishing school for Scotland’s future Olympians, Six Nations champions and World Cup footballers. The title, dreamt up by focus groups and marketing types, may split opinion – one rather convoluted explanation is that it can be broken down as “I am gold” using the Gaelic word for said precious metal – but the derivation of the name is not hugely significant. This, after all, is about evolution, not etymology.

Oriam is Scotland’s new sports performance centre. It is based at Heriot-Watt University’s Riccarton campus, after Edinburgh got the nod over Stirling and Dundee on the three-city shortlist, and cost around £33m to construct. Members of the public and students will gain access to certain areas of the complex but its primary aim is to provide world-class facilities for Scotland’s elite athletes in the hope that it will lead to improved performances in the competitive arena. Both the Scottish Rugby Union and the Scottish Football Association have made a long-term commitment to using Oriam in the build-up to future internationals, the national football team moving through once the site’s accompanying hotel is built next summer. The national associations of other sports – such as basketball, netball and handball – will also take up residence in south-west Edinburgh.

It will officially open its doors next week but, beyond a few finishing blobs of paint here and there, Oriam is already ready for business. It is impressive in an architectural sense, hidden from the main road into the university campus by the plethora of tall trees. Turn left through a gap, however, and this colossal sporting cathedral suddenly emerges before you, its vastness as noticeable as its modernity. Size is a key and recurring theme, most notably around Oriam’s centrepiece, its full-size 3G artificial football and rugby pitch that measures a colossal 116 metres long and 76 metres wide. At its midpoint it is 28 metres high, enough to ensure even the most ferocious of Garryowen clearances doesn’t scrape against the ceiling. Hibernian will play their under-20 fixtures in here this season, opening with a derby against Hearts – still based in the adjoining sports centre - this Tuesday. As an additional quirk, they have assembled the internal windows in such a way that, if read as sheet music, it would play the intro to Flower of Scotland. Comparisons with the Football Association’s national football centre in Staffordshire are irresistible.

“We went to St George’s Park several times to look at what they’ve done and we feel we’ve created even better spaces here,” said Steven Anderson, sportscotland’s lead manager on facilities development. “Our indoor hall is bigger and taller, and the natural light is fantastic. As part of the brief we wanted to create this inspirational environment in an inspirational setting and we’ve absolutely got that here.”

The indoor pitch bisects the two wings of the facility; the public and students on one side, the elite athletes on the other. On the high-performance side of things there is a strength and conditioning centre, hydrotherapy pool, and a medical and rehab centre. There are offices, too, the one earmarked for Brian McClair, the SFA’s erstwhile performance director, now awaiting a new owner. Outside there is a full-sized synthetic pitch, and seven grass rugby and football pitches. The grass is lush underfoot and on a warm, sunny day it seems almost a shame to envisage how it will likely deteriorate come the winter months.

This, though, is a facility built on the recommendations of the McLeish report with the aim of combating the Scottish climate. Trying to figure out why our national teams – the senior football side, in particular – continue to fall short of expectation is a multi-faceted, multi-layered debate. It is far from a single-issue matter. By eliminating poor indoor facilities from the equation, however, it may take us closer to making a specific and accurate diagnosis on the ills of Scottish sport.

“Stewart Regan [SFA chief executive] has said he wants this to be a catalyst for qualifying for major tournaments,” said Catriona McAllister, his counterpart at Oriam. “The next World Cup may be too soon given they probably won’t move here until halfway through that campaign but getting to the stage where we are regularly qualifying for tournaments is what this is all about. But we’re only one small part of that jigsaw. A lot of other things have to happen around Scottish football for that to happen. What I want to be able to do is produce a facility for them that is world-class standard whenever they need it.”

In other sports, a more tangible return on investment will come in the number of athletes appearing at the Olympics and other high-profile events. “Sportscotland wants to develop a world-class sporting system and this allows us to touch on the performance side in a way that we haven’t done before, “said Craig Faill, regional performance manager at sportscotland’s Institute of Sport. “Success of the new facility will be measured by how many athletes get on Team GB for Olympics or Paralympics, and how many Scots win medals. The building is phenomenal and we’ve got the expertise, so if you put the two together you should get something unique in the country.”

McAllister makes no secret of the fact that, in preparing the blueprint for Oriam, they visited a number of elite sporting facilities around the world and stole the best parts out of each of them. They are unabashedly proud of what they have come up with.

“The indoor facilities here are far superior to any of the Premier League training grounds,” she added. “So if you go to Manchester United they don’t have a full-sized indoor pitch. You then go up to the likes of the new Manchester City facility that had around £150m spent on it and clearly has things that we don’t. But we’ve taken all the bits that we needed and put them in here.”

Pampered footballers will continue to be pampered but only, as McAllister reveals, if they have earned the right to train, rest and recover in such luxury.

“Many players at club level are used to enjoying the best of everything on a daily basis. And then you come to Scotland and, with no offence to what they’re doing at the moment, they’re at Mar Hall, the pitch isn’t the best, they’re using a swimming pool for recovery, and there’s only a little gym there. Playing for Scotland should feel special and as such you get to do it in an environment like this. That’s why we were quite specific about there being a glass ceiling here for certain parts of the facility. Players only get into the environment when they’ve earned it. You can’t put young kids into that. Then there’s nothing for them to strive for.”

- Oriam, Scotland's sports performance centre, opens on Monday 29 August. For more information visit oriamscotland.com