26 March 2010
External works is complete on the £12.7m Leisure Centre
in Darwen, Lancashire.
The Centre features state-of-the-art sport and leisure
facilities including an impressive 25 metre swimming pool; a small
pool; a main gym with eighty pieces of equipment; a multi-purpose
fitness studio; a multi-use sports hall, and a training suite.
Capita Symonds provided architecture, quantity surveying,
structural engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering, and
project management services on the project which comprised the
demolition of the existing building and full design and
construction of the new Centre.
The main swimming pool, which has eight-lanes and a moveable
floor (funded by Sport England), can be used for competitions and
has electronic timing equipment, a video and results scoreboard and
seating for up to 250 spectators. Materials fitted in the two
swimming pool areas have been chosen to aid acoustics so that loud
noises are dulled but low frequencies are carried, meaning that
swimming teachers do not have to shout.
The new Darwen Leisure Centre is situated in a prominent and
elevated position in the town centre, forming a ‘campus’ with a new
health centre. The building has also been designed to optimise
comfort for its users through a combination of mechanical
servicing, natural lighting and solar control. Wherever
practical, generous glazing is provided to activity spaces giving a
‘shop window’ for the centre. These windows are angled and provided
with part-obscured glazing to give oblique views of the activity,
suggesting a sense of permeability and accessibility whilst
maintaining privacy for individual users.
Darwen’s urban environment is reflected in the external envelope
with brick, ceramic cladding and copper being the main facing
materials. The new building is generally two storeys in height with
parapet roofs to further enhance its scale. A stone portico from
the previous leisure centre, held in considerable affection by the
local community, has also been retained and re-used as part of the
The project’s key challenges included the demolition of the
existing structure within a Conservation Area and a change in
political power during the design stage which led to a redesign
incorporating the various aspirations of new elected members,
including a sports hall extension.
Councillor Michael Law-Riding, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s
executive member for leisure and culture said: "Local people
deserve this brand new sport and leisure centre, which is
benefiting the whole borough. And as well as providing this superb
facility we are supporting the local economy and regeneration of
Darwen town centre. “
"It was completed on schedule and within budget and is one of the
best sports and leisure centres in the area. I am confident it will
be very well used by people from the borough and beyond. And since
it opened at the end of January attendances have gone ‘through the
roof’ and applications for gym memberships have exceeded all our
expectations,” he adds.