Refurbishment meets sustainability

The three existing tanks at Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Pool are being replaced with state-of-the-art pools. (Image: S&P Architects)
The £37 million upgrade and refurbishment of Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool provides the opportunity for a host of sustainability measures.Edinburgh’s Grade A listed Royal Commonwealth Pool is to be completely refurbished. Work is set to start on site next year. When finished, the pool will host the diving competitions for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The work is being mainly funded by the City of Edinburgh Council, and partly by Sport Scotland. The original pool, designed by RMJM Architects, was built in 1967 and used twice for the Commonwealth Games in the past — 1970 and 1986. The pool, described by Scottish Architecture Minister Linda Fabiani as ‘a streamlined modernist design of international renown’, will now undergo a £37 million upgrade and refurbishment, led by S&P Architects and engineered by Buro Happold. The existing building is just a mile south of the city centre and enjoys a dramatic backdrop provided by the Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat. ‘In addition to its Commonwealth heritage, it has always been a major centre for swimming in Scotland, nurturing the country’s elite athletes,’ said Mike Lee of S&P Architects. ‘Its success is reflected in its iconic status among swimmers and listing as a building of architectural importance. The design has been challenging. We have retained the elements of the original building which first merited the Grade A listing, while upgrading the facilities to today’s performance criteria. We have worked hard with Historic Scotland to ensure that the character of the building will remain intact, though areas such as the changing rooms, reception and café will all be enhanced with an overhaul of space planning, finishes and fittings.’ The refurbishment will involve replacing the three existing tanks with state-of-the-art pools, meeting the standards for national swimming, water polo and synchronised swimming competitions, and international diving ones. Scotland’s success in the pool during the 2004 Olympic Games has inspired the City of Edinburgh Council to create a centre for excellence for diving in particular. ‘It will also provide the best possible health suite and leisure facilities for local people,’ said James Daw, Buro Happold’s project leader on the scheme. The existing 50 m pool will be replaced with a level-deck pool, 51.5 m long by 21 m wide with a traversable boom and moving floor. This will allow the pool to be divided into two according to need, to create the space for short and long course competition, warm-up and training, water polo and synchronised swimming, and fitness and leisure swimming options. It will be eight lanes wide, meeting national competition standards. The existing diving pool will be replaced by a pool 25 m wide and 16.25 m long, with a variable depth of 1 to 5 m, so it can be used for diving, swimming and synchronised swimming. The diving platforms will be placed at heights of 3, 5, 7.5 and 10 m, with two springboards at heights of 1 and 3 m. Versatility is key to both pools, and with a dry diving facility containing trampolines and springboards with harnesses this pool will provide a national centre of excellence for diving. Finally, the teaching pool will be replaced with a 25 m pool with a moving floor for variable depth, providing flexible training facilities to a wide range of people, in a separate and secure environment. ‘Up to 900 spectator seats will be placed on a newly-constructed terrace, giving good sight lines across all three pools,’ says James Daw. ‘There will be a health suite, gym, studios, crèche, café and children’s facilities on site too. A solar roof will prevent 70 t of CO2 entering the atmosphere each year
Edinburgh icon — the refurbishment of the Commonwealth Pool will include sustainable improvements such as a solar roof — the dark area on the upper roof of this computer-generated image. (Image: S&P Architects)
Buro Happold, which among other disciplines is providing building-services, structural and civil engineering, will also be focusing on sustainability. ‘Water will be conserved through the use of water-saving appliances, and waste shower water will be recycled and used for toilet flushing,’ explains James Daw. ‘An 800 m2 solar roof will be installed, which should generate 458 000 kWh a year, saving 70 t of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year.’ Furthermore, a 237 kW(e) combined heating and power (CHP) system will provide 225 kW of heating, with a combined saving approximately 400 t of CO2 per year. ‘Buro Happold is very proud of its involvement in the resurrection of this pool, which is a great part of Scotland’s recent ‘ said James Daw. ‘It will go on site in 2009, and is planned to be ready in time to be used as a training centre in the run up to the 2012 Olympics, before being used for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.’ Project team: Client: City of Edinburgh Council. Architect: S&P Architects. Buro Happold services: Structural, building services, infrastructure, ground and environmental engineering; CoSA (computer simulation) and LiT (lighting technologies).
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