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50 PROJECT REPORT: SPORTS & LEISURE FACILITIES


Photography © Morley Von Sternberg


“They were model clients – they came to us with a vision and trusted us to develop it”


explains. The school required the pool for both swimming and water polo lessons. “The two functions have different requirements,” says Davies. “There was a great deal of discussion about the profile and depth of the pool, it was about balancing the needs of both.” Internally, the facilities were designed


with a “see it, do it” principle in mind. “Increasing the visibility of the sports means people are more likely to participate,” Davies says. This idea influenced the extensive use of glass on the swimming pool hall, large windows looking into the sports hall, and the upstairs access galleries which overlook the halls and pool and can also be used for spectators during events. The studios and gym upstairs also feature extensive glazing which overlooks the pitches and playing fields outside. “It was about creating views both inside and out, connecting to the sport all around,” explains Davies.


Materials


A key part of ensuring the buildings didn’t overpower their surroundings was the use of brick, explains Davies. The sports hall is a particular example, featuring a large external brick facade. “There was a great deal of dialogue with the school about the brick selection,” he says. “Getting the right brick mix and mortar combination, and breaking the large mass of the sports hall down by how we layered them, and the texture.” The bricks chosen were carefully selected to be in keeping with the variety present in the nearby garden walls and building facades. Internally, the materials were carefully


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chosen based on what was appropriate for the setting, says Davies. The sports hall was constructed with a steel frame and concrete panel wall system to create “robust surfaces that were impact resistant,” explains Davies. “We wanted to avoid the usual concrete blockwork.”


The practice used a concrete frame for the central pavilion, which contained the changing rooms, gym, and strength and conditioning suite. Glulam and CLT were chosen as the primary structural materials in the pool hall due to their properties in this corrosive environment, bearing onto concrete columns. Despite timber’s resilience to moisture, the architects avoided its use in “splash zones.” The timber roof – white-washed to complement the concrete columns – sweeps down in a wave-like motion from the viewing galleries within the central pavilion to the single storey end of the hall. The shape of the roof, as well as being practical to allow for the change in storey height, was also influenced by the incorporation of a continuous rooflight to create a good and even light distribution over the pool and reduce glare for swimmers. The glulam beams therefore have a dynamic shape and varied depth to support this.


Glulam was also used in the concert hall – part of one of the earlier phases of the masterplan – which both won and was shortlisted for several architectural awards. Recently, and thanks to its timber roof design, the swimming pool hall was named the Education & Public Sector winner at the 2020 Wood Awards. 


ADF MAY 2021


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