© Scagliola Brakkee

© Hufton+Crow

The metal exterior provides the project with its “iconic image” and produces the illusion it is a much smaller building than it actually is

There are also steel trusses that span the major spaces, about five metres deep over the long span. “We researched materials which could respond to the demands of constructing a seamless twisting ribbon,” Davenport explains. “We selected metal shingles, a pragmatic and appropriate way to do this.” Besides the green roofs, the other ecological elements of the build include 15,000 m2

© Scagliola Brakkee

A host of public open days were held to explain the project’s novel design, and help engage the community in the process. Once the building was under construction, there were also a number of open days held where the local community could come and tour the building, and at some key stages, actually take part in the construction work.

of photovoltaic panels placed on

the roof, with a heat-regulating sedum roof finish, and two ground water wells that form a heating and cooling system. The beach area utilises heated sand, warmed through hot water pipes laid beneath the floor. Also included is a misting device to keep the dust from the sand. Davenport details the process: “You need to find a certain type of sand which minimises the dusting, and then you need to dampen it through a misting device, to keep any remaining dust down to the surface level.” Internally, the main material used is wood panelling, perforated to provide acoustic benefit. Much of the flooring is prefabricated concrete, as is the arena seating. In the sports areas, flat steel panelled ceilings are employed, with integrated radiant heating panels.


Davenport says the team were “really surprised” by people’s reaction to the edifice as it went up. “It’s a modern building, sitting in what is quite a traditional area, and the park is a listed monument. I must admit that when you engage in these kind of buildings, and you take the decision to make them and put something modern out there, you inevitably put yourself out there for some criticism. “You’d expect it to be more of a ‘Marmite’ kind of building, but it’s not at all. Everyone gets it, feels that it’s working, and that it sits well in its setting, so there’s been very little criticism, which I take as a fantastic compliment.”

Open to the park

Being located in isolation in the centre of a public space proved to be a challenging aspect of the project. The spaces around the


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