“This Sports Centre provides something for everyone and encourages girls and boys of all levels to join in the many fun games and sports on offer.” Georgia Grant (NH), Captain of Girls’ Hockey. The mission statement of Uppingham School, founded in 1584 and located in the market town of Uppingham, is ‘for the young, only the best is good enough’. The School prides itself in providing an all round education and the Western Quad masterplan aims to provide an inspiring place to live, learn, carry out sport and be creative for both pupils and the local community. Phase 1A of the masterplan creates a new Sports Centre with separate changing Pavilion and re-landscaped grounds that incorporate outdoor pitches and courts.
After undertaking an in-depth study of the existing Sports Centre it was concluded that it was uneconomic to refurbish or re-use. In addition the Centre had no relationship with the sports pitches, had limited appeal to community users and was not accessible to disabled users. The client brief placed an emphasis on creating an inspirational environment for sport and leisure that the school and local community could enjoy together. An importance was placed on creating humane and sociable spaces, movement that connected the different functions, and opportunities to sit and share ideas. The sports grounds were seen as spaces to enjoy as well as take part in activities, and a landscaping strategy was required that created tree-lined avenues and “outdoor rooms” that complement and support the architecture.
All of the sports spaces are flooded with natural daylight (mainly north light) and have visual connections with the external landscape which is in contrast to the traditional sports centre ‘container’ feel. The massing of the facility is broken down into 3 separate buildings which enables the scale and use of materials to be varied. In order to meet the stringent acoustic criteria vertical thermowood and hemlock timber louvres disguise acoustic insulation and add warmth to the spaces.
The Sports hall is clad in locally sourced Clipsham stone and Amersham multi and dark brick. The pool, fitness studios, changing, and teaching facilities are housed within a Clipsham stone pavilion with a standing seam zinc roof and the Gymnasium is clad in Tecu bronze standing seam cladding. These buildings are punched with aluminium framed windows.
The swimming pool hall has an exposed structural column and beam frame made from square faced tapered spruce glulam, spanning the 16m width. This supports the timber soffit of X-LAM structural cross laminated boards which span 4m without any secondary support, providing both a ceiling finish and decking for the roof finishes without the need for steel bracing as well as helping to offer good thermal insulation. The timber soffit carries on beyond the high level perimeter glazing to create the impressive cantilevered overhang to the roof. At each end of the pool further timber panels are suspended under the structural soffit. These are perforated and backed with an acoustic insulation. Three of the internal elevations are clad in continuous vertical Hemlock cladding. These are 50 x 50mm battens at 100mm centres, backed with an acoustic fabric and insulation.
The same acoustic timber cladding detail was used to line the internal elevations of the Sports Hall and the Gymansium, but instead using Thermowood to match the exterior cladding of the pavilion. The use of timber cladding to the walls as well as the ceiling panels ensured the demanding acoustic performance required could be achieved in each of these large volume spaces, as well as offering an impressive, warm and welcoming environment. It is possible within the Centre to engage with all sports from the circulation spaces with dedicated spectator areas within the Sports Hall, Squash Courts and Swimming Pool. The school has commented that pupils ‘hang out’ into the evening in the many in-between spaces and are seeing more uptake of Sport.
Externally there is plenty opportunity to view the different sports from either the grass mound or terrace at the south of the rugby pitch, to the sheltered viewing gallery by the pavilion or one of the many timber benches. The Sports Centre is accessible to all users irrespective of age, sex or physical ability. The Centre is open to all members of the local community and encourages participation in a range of sports and leisure activities through its extensive membership programme. Since opening in September 2010 the feedback has been fantastic and many of the teachers comment that they didn’t appreciate how much daylight would fill the spaces and that the Centre has encouraged more of the students to participate in Sport lessons and out of school time.
Paul Westgate Director of Sport commented: “It is quickly becoming a sporting environment where young boys and girls can be inspired and inspiring. The moment one enters the building one can feel the buzz and energy as pupils engage purposefully and enthusiastically in a range of activities from dance to swimming, and from fencing to basketball. The thinking and vision behind the USSC has made it less a building and more a way of living underpinned by our core sporting values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship.”Location: Rutland, UK
Architect: ORMS Architecture Design
WAF: Entry 2011 Photos: Ed Hill