The SPACE (Sports and Performing Arts Centre of Excellence) is the most ambitious project of the planned upgrade of the school to date. It is located on a condensed part of the site at the back of the campus and required the demolition of the existing swimming pool and sports hall to free up valuable land for the new 5,500sqm development.
From the outset the 900sqm multi-purpose gym with indoor running track was designed to be a central hub within the SPACE and it occupies most of the ground floor. It is supplemented by a number of flexible student spaces to foster a relationship between the physical movement and the science behind it allowing teachers to combine the practical with the theory.
Also on the ground floor is a new swimming facility which can be directly accessed from the outside without the need to go through the sports hall. It includes a 300-seat spectator viewing area, electronic touch timing system making it ideal for galas and other water sports events.
On the first floor the 1,100sqm sports hall is designed for two basketball and two netball courts with retractable bleacher style seating for around 500 spectators.
The size of the sports hall and its unique layout with a show court running in the opposite direction to the second court and a dividing curtain allows the school the flexibility and capacity to increase the number of activities and to be able to host large tournaments.
The performing arts was also a key consideration for the SPACE with the creation of a black box drama performance space with seating for 140, drama rooms, music classrooms as well as music practice areas.
A rooftop MUGA court and student café have also been incorporated as well as a unique hall of fame showcasing the achievements of the school.
We chose two different specialist suppliers for the flooring. For the gym area it was vital to select flooring that was going to be high-traction and slip-resistant and be able to absorb moderate levels of impact.
The key consideration for the sports hall was the flooring had to be capable of bearing loads from retractable seating and other specialist equipment without sustaining damage. The solid hardwood we specified needed to be durable and easy to maintain and, most importantly, it had to provide the ergonomic support for students to enable optimal performance.
Lighting a multi-use facility such as The SPACE required a lighting system that could be used for the various different requirement of the whole area and mimic natural daylight as much as possible. The lighting installation had a basic requirement to provide a sufficient amount of light to allow gym users, swimmers or those playing on the courts to be able to perform efficiently and safely. It also needed to be specific for the needs of the theatre and drama studios with placement key to avoiding glare.
With space at a premium the design team had a challenging footprint to work with and so prioritising how the space would be used was crucial. The aim was to create more facilities and space to accommodate a greater range of activities and make it easier for timetabling. The team also had to consider the flow in and around the sports facilities and, while the areas of The SPACE are designed to work harmoniously, they also needed to be zoned for different events.
Architect: Godwin Austen Johnson
Photographer: Chris Goldstraw
Contractor: Al Tayer Stocks
1. Flooring: Ecore Flooring and Junckers Flooring
2. Interior lighting: Fagerhult Lighting
3. Gym equipment: MeFitPro and Younix
4. Sports Flooring: Mapei