Short Listed Schemes – Westminster Lodge, Queensway Health Centre & Francis Combe Academy

Project: Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre
Location: St Albans
Client: Mr Richard Shwe
Architect: S&P
Category: Most Sustainable Construction & Design Excellence

Westminster Lodge sports facility is located in Verulamium Park in St Albans. It was rebuilt in 2012 and includes 25x10m main pool with 50% movable floor, 17x10m training pool with 100% moving floor, children’s water area, four court sports hall, 200 station fitness gym and youth gym, two exercise / multi purpose studios, group cycling studio, climbing wall, crèche, spa, children’s soft play area and café.

The site has been designed to meet the design excellence criteria on many levels, by deciding upon a range of activities to best meet the needs of the people of St. Albans a state of the art building was created to allow adjacencies to complement each recreation activity and create visual impacts by use of large open spaces and full height glass.

The spa takes the original Roman concept of different temperature rooms and specifies high quality and robust materials. The design alone is not enough and it is essential to make the facilities accessible to the people of St Albans.

Westminster Lodge has been awarded BREEAM Very Good and constructed by a contractor who is registered under the Considerate Construction Scheme.

Whole-Life aspects of building design will ensure that the future running costs of the site remain affordable, with building component longevity key in selecting finishes and fixtures.

The grey water system linked with the SuDS enables operators to keep their costs down and uses leading edge technology to provide this essential feature. The impacts on the local environment are minimised by the drainage system harvesting and storing water to support all main areas of the facility by way of the SuDS. Combined heat and power also means that the heat generated from power generation heats the pool, this is key for remaining sustainable and keeping running costs low in the short and long term. Backwash water from the pools is also used to feed the toilets.

Building material selection was based on reviewing similar materials in comparison with each other using key criteria such as whole-life cost and sustainability. PV’s make energy for the centre and feeds extra energy back to the grid. Glulam beams used in the pool roof are both sustainable and renewable materials.

Name of project: Queensway Health Centre – Refurbishment and remodel
Client: Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust
Architect: Ampersand Associates Ltd
Category: Retrofit for the Future Award

Queensway Health Centre is located in the heart of Hatfield. It was built in the 1960’s as a two storey brick built community clinic, and has provided NHS outpatient care to the community ever since. It delivers a multitude of ever-changing NHS clinics including podiatry, baby clinics, counselling and sexual health.

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust is very proud of the massive transformation this £1m+ project has made to this NHS out-patient clinic. The completed scheme has provided contemporary, modern healthcare estate that is both energy and space efficient, and is a huge enhancement to facilities available to NHS patients and staff.

This retrofitting project was all encompassing and includes the following features:
• Maximised utilisation and introducing changes in custom and practice:
• Longevity of cosmetic appearance by embracing plastic wallings rather than decorations.
• Creation of a very colourful environment with each clinic room having a colour accent.
• Introduction of mural of a local landscape to the entrance foyer.
• Sky tiles finishing for patient-side ceilings in non clinical areas.
• Installation of solar PV and solar thermal proving electricity and hot water respectively.
• Carbon footprint reduction by an estimated 65% through enhancement of fabric insulation, upgrading from single to double glazed, roof insulation renewal and energy efficient lighting, modern gas heating system and solar panels installation.
• Innovative new products – Therma-skirt, which is a low surface temperature radiator that looks like a skirting board.
• New equitable access created using natural slope of site.
• External decorating with striking NHS blue on all elevations to enhance identity.
• Clever storage: conversion of redundant basement rooms to stores.
• Contemporary office space: alteration of first floor large territorialised office spaces to create open plan office with 4 bookable quiet rooms.
• Introduction of planting scheme to all elevations of the clinic, thereby providing the following benefits:
a) Providing defensible and private space
b) Enhancing the impression of the NHS given to users and passers/drivers by
c) Wildlife friendly plants such a lavender were chosen to encourage bees and provide a nice scent

Name of project: Francis Combe Academy
Client: Hertfordshire County Council
Architect: Architects Co Partnership
Category: Design Excellence

The Francis Combe Academy was designed to have a significant positive impact on the educational progress of its students, seeking to raise the aspirations and the achievement of all of its students and staff. The design had to accommodate the ten separate ‘schools’ forming the academy, in one retained structure, with a variety of new build environments, and an existing building. The schools are grouped into larger clusters placed around the external open area at the heart of the academy.

The entrance onto the academy is designed to be inviting with views into the academy mall but is also safe and secure. The design consists of a three story glazed frontage aimed at drawing users to the building. The general administration controls the entrance lobby and other administration is centred on the mall, with views over the external heart, the courtyard and open Green Belt.

External materials have been selected to reflect the surrounding built environment. Brick, render and glass predominate and are applied to give variety within the scheme. The architecture is deliberately designed to provide a unique character to the academy and be visually distinct from, yet respectful to the adjacent historic building.

The external covered area runs alongside the rejuvenated Dell, providing an amphitheatre and open link to the green belt open land to the north. The covered link can shelter the whole school population during inclement weather and provides covered dining opportunities adjacent to the main dining hall.

Another important design driver was the school’s emphasis on utilising the external spaces for education. The landscaping solutions, including the provision of ‘hard areas’, offers areas for students to learn outdoors, to sit and to appreciate nature as well as use as external dining spaces. The biome garden offers experimental science learning.

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