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PROJECT REPORT: SPORTS & LEISURE FACILITIES


35


© Diane Auckland


cafe were created while the existing ones were being refurbished.


The architects needed to bear in mind the potential future planned phases of redevelopment throughout all of this. As Sykes puts it, “There were kind of hidden lines in the current work so that when the next phase comes forward, we’re prepped for it.”


However, he adds that “it’s difficult to get the right balance in terms of the quality and resilience of the pieces that are going to be there for the long-term, but being quite circumspect on the areas that might only be there for a few years.”


A new hall


The brief from the client for the Sports Centre was for a hall that would accommodate four badminton courts (or a single basketball court) – this would double the capacity as the complex already includes a four-court hall. As FaulknerBrowns’ Sykes says, this extra capacity gives the client the “platform to deliver future phases of the masterplan” – there will be no need to close the building when the time comes for the refurbishment work to take place. In common with many such projects in Oxford, funding for Phase 1 relied on bequests, and Sykes admits that “sometimes the benefactor has a very strong view about what the building should or shouldn’t have inside it.” He tells ADF however that the masterplan “has to be strong enough so it holds together, and that the planning consent has continuing value, but loose


ADF JULY 2019


enough to react to a changing world, whether in terms of funding, or sport.” Because the redevelopment will span “a lot of years,” the architects wanted to achieve a “quite neutral” look externally, to help the phases “harmonise with each other over time.” As part of this, the simple rectangular form echoes other buildings on the site, clad in a “well mannered” pale brick with lime mortar, and no movement joints. “We’ve tried to set a standard for future phases,” says Sykes.


A glass floor


Despite the complexity and challenges of refurbishing and adding facilities within the existing building, the new sports centre is virtually a stand-alone achievement, uncompromised by anything around it. It is a truly state-of-the-art result for the client, featuring the UK’s first full LED-lit, sprung glass sports floor. This is just one key element of a neat and classy finish that’s also something of a surprise for users familiar with the multiple criss-crossing lines common to most sports hall floors. Using this innovative laminated floor, produced by German firm ASB GlassFloor, court markings for a variety of different sports can be simply switched on or off, thanks to a maze of aluminium tracks under the black, etched glass panels; these contain white LED ribbons which illuminate to form the markings. These are arranged in a variety of configurations to form different courts and pitches and can be instantly switched over.


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FLUSH Flush glazing faces a central viewing area adjacent to the entrance, “like the back wall of a squash court”


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