Scunthorpe Sports Academy "THE PODS" & Central Park

Completed whilst working at AFLS+P (re-branded as Space & Place).

*Shortlisted for World Architecture Festival 2011 Awards

The district sports facility is approximately 5000m2 and includes a 25metre, 8 lane swimming pool, a training pool, a 6 court sports hall, a health and fitness centre, a café and associated offices and support facilities.

The design transformed what are so often ‘Box-like Sports Sheds’ into an undulating composition of interlinked geodesic timber shells that roll gently into the landscape. The profile of the entrance shell was raised to enclose a viewing mezzanine overlooking a lagoon and to create a drama to reinvigorate a forgotten entrance to Scunthorpe Central Park.  S&P Architects who worked with Buro Happold’s geometry team (SMART) developed the form with Rhino and associated parametric software.  This software was then used to develop a structural grid on the surface with the resulting 3D models used for the structural analysis and then converted by B & K Structures to CAM for the production process.  

The structural solution for the domes has been successfully executed on the continent, but has not previously been employed in the UK on such a large scale and with such a complex geometry. Clear spans are achieved in excess of 50 m.

The complex 3D form employed a series of tessellated flat triangular panels across the surface to achieve the curved profile using only straight members. Each of these triangular panels are constructed from individual Glulam beams (each of a different length to achieve the overall building geometry) joined together using a series of unique angled cylindrical steel nodes forming the connection between them, this being developed with B & K Structures, a further innovation are the bonded-in rods in the ends of the Glulam beams. In order to establish the true capacity of this joint, which is at the cutting edge of timber connection technology.  Extensive testing was undertaken by Bath University.  The surface of the domes are covered with specially constructed cassettes, constructed from softwood joists with a plywood outer skin. The soffit is made up of Cedar timber slats to provide acoustic attenuation. The outer surface of the domes were covered with a single ply membrane and various rain screen finishes were added: a sedum green roof, Cedar shingles and metal cassettes. It also features a glazed entrance dome with strategically placed triangulated panels on actuators, opening and closing to provide ventilation as required in the café space.

A highly innovative extruded top hat PVC batten with an aluminium SHC core was developed so that this batten could be welded to the single ply membrane without penetrating the waterproof membrane. This acted as a base for a cross batten that could support a number of different rain screen finishes. The finished building is also very sustainable (it has an air tightness of 1.8), is highly insulated, uses grey water recycling, and Biomass secondary heating.

Concept & Planning:  Andrew Wright Associates

Landscape Architects:  Grant Associates