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Places Leisure Eastleigh, Southern England

How do you build a bigger community sports facility without encroaching on green space?

Places Eastleigh Leisure is a £28 million community sports centre that replaces an older, out-of date sports centre on a site surrounded by parkland. It has been developed by local authority Eastleigh Borough Council and Places for People with partnership funding from Sport England and England Netball.

Arup’s building engineers and technical specialists were involved from the outset, working initially with the council and AHR Architects, and subsequently collaborating with the contractor Interserve through to the centre’s public opening.

Close collaboration and communication between all partners allowed construction to complete in just 19 months, an achievement given the size and complexity of the sports hall. Our contribution to the project included multidisciplinary building engineering as well as specialist input from our geo-environmental, acoustics, lighting design and BREEAM sustainability assessment teams.

Project Summary

19 month construction programme

15 badminton courts


Preserving parkland

Built on the site of a former community sports centre situated in a parkland setting, one of the project’s design priorities was to protect this setting and to better connect the new facility to the surrounding parkland.

The team succeeded in delivering a larger, better-equipped centre without a substantial increase in the building’s footprint and, crucially, without the loss of any green space.

Low carbon initiatives 

Leisure centres are often energy intensive and the AHR-Arup design team focused on both reducing operational energy demand and on incorporating onsite renewables generation. The project integrated low carbon technologies, including an existing solar photovoltaic installation and a new energy-efficient combined heat and power (CHP) plant. 

Windows are full ceiling height, enabling daylight to penetrate deep into the building, while the design also uses low energy LED lighting and a glazed façade for reduced solar gain and lower energy demand. Sensors switch off lighting when it is not required. The result is a BREEAM Excellent building with an EPC rating of A, representing a design aimed at achieving operational carbon emissions half that of a typical new build.

Arup adeptly coordinated the building design with the requirements of multiple stakeholders on this
project, including our pool filtration specialist, district heating provider, operator and Sports
England. Arup have been good communicators, helpful, pragmatic, and thorough throughout the
design process. ” Paul Phillips Operational Buildings Manager, Eastleigh Borough Council

Smart structural solutions

Supporting the building structure are double laminated glulam timber beams, which run prominently along the ceiling of the swimming pool. Our structural engineering team avoided the use of corrosive materials that might have required the pool to close for maintenance. In fact, the distinctive glulam beams will not require maintenance for the lifetime of the building.

Our structural design for the pool substructure also eliminated the need for tension pile foundations, which in turn reduced the cost and length of construction.

In addition, the pool is fitted with underwater cameras with automatic drowning detection, whilst a moveable floor within the learner pool both enables easy maintenance and facilitates increased accessibility for pool users with mobility challenges.

A floating floor 

The fitness suite is located directly above offices and meeting rooms. Our structures and acoustics engineers offered a solution to reduce noise and vibration from the gym floor to the rooms below and adjacent areas. A horizontally-isolated structure that separates the slab of the free weights area from the rest of the building was introduced, together with variable stiffness vibration isolation materials including a Regupol® recycled tyre crumb for the isolation material. This approach significantly reduced the transmission of impacts from the gym to the surrounding area and was cost effective and simpler to construct.

Optimisation of internal space

Arup’s multidisciplinary team and AHR adopted building information modelling (BIM) from the outset. This simplified the routing of the mechanical and electrical services along the main spine of the building into recessed beams in the floor. This approach facilitated lowering of the building height and compliance with the local authority’s planning conditions without the need to relinquish internal space.