Wilkinson Eyre Architects was appointed to design this new swimming pool following an RIBA competition. The new pool complex includes a six lane, 25 metre pool, a combined learner/diving pool, indoor leisure pools with rapids, flumes and outdoor pool, a health and fitness centre, café, crèche and flexible space for other activities.
Located adjacent to the existing 1960s Aquarena on Worthing’s seafront and close to the town centre, this is an exciting development on a unique seafront site. The design maximises the potential of the site with ‘ribbons’ of accommodation flowing from north to south to emphasise the connection between land and sea. Each pool has its own terrace, opening up the façade to animate the beachfront elevation and enlivening this prominent location in line with the Council’s aspirations for an Active Beach Zone.
Worthing is one of the most quintessential English seaside towns and a place with an interesting history. The architecture of this building carefully responds to the site, creating a structure that has both a human and civic scale. Rather than dominating the site in the style of a grand seaside pavilion, it sits informally, even playfully, within its setting.
The dynamic, fragmented shape of the new leisure centre is arranged to respond to the surrounding mix of built forms and landscape. The fluid form reflects the fluid nature of the pools and the sea beyond, created by meandering extruded forms. The building’s dramatic sawtooth roof, with its ranks of sinuous ridges, recalls a series of dunes that curve and twist towards the coast. This shape reduces the visual mass of the buildings and mediates the change in scale from the terraced houses that line the coastal road to the expansiveness of the open sea.
From the inside, the building is emphatically focussed towards the sea. The spans between the longitudinal ridges of the roof widen as the height of the building increases, running towards the sea and terminating in a series of glazed facades that directly overlook the water. The building has been raised so that from pool level, there is a powerful visual connection between the pool and the sea, creating the impression of an infinity pool.
Construction and materials
A palette of naturally finished copper and timber was selected for the envelope of the building as they are robust against the fierce coastal elements, require minimal maintenance, complement each other aesthetically and will age gracefully in the maritime conditions. These self-finished natural materials are synonymous with the tradition of English seaside culture and are sensitive to the history of this beautiful seaside town.
Timber construction in coastal resorts has rich metaphors, from boat construction through to the rich candy colours of the changing chalets. We selected western red cedar for the envelope of the building, combined with integrated substantial glazed panels, creating the effect of “picture frames” to the windows and roof-lights.
Copper is a material that truly ‘roots’ itself to the site; the material metamorphoses from its traditional rich, reflective copper red through to the dull dark browns and further to a vibrant green patinated finish. Two different finishes have been used to create variation along the length of the western façade: the primary wall and roof surfaces use flat cladding panels and the projected windows use a perforated rain screen system.
The use of robust materials is also used for the interior of the building, such as exposed concrete, painted plasterboard, timber and ceramic tiles. The internal material palette needs to be hard wearing and aesthetically pleasing to respond to the difficult environment; the frequency of use; frequency of deliveries; equipment movement and high humidity level in general.
The key structural element for the building is a long span (north-south), multi pitched curved and twisted roof. The roof structure is comprised of bespoke fabricated steel plate box girders derived from bridge technology. The profiles are shaped to reflect the roof geometry and to maximise the light coming through the clerestory glazing. Between the primary beams, a spruce plywood timber deck is used to support the roof insulation and finishes farming the exposed soffit to the main pool areas. Timber is an ideal material for this difficult environment and the panels have been pre finished for minimal on site preparation.
The project started on site in April 2011 and was completed in May 2013.
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