May 22, 2019 Last Updated 1:19 PM, May 22, 2019

Leisure Centre builds community connections

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The Sunderland community now has access to an exceptional leisure facility, Washington Leisure Centre, with curtain walling from Reynaers, a leading provider of aluminium glazing systems.


Putting leisure at the heart of the community, the centre underwent an £11m development and was rebuilt to encourage participation in a comprehensive range of indoor and outdoor activities.

Washington Leisure Centre’s offering now includes pools and flumes, a health suite with a sauna and steam rooms, a wellness centre, a soft play area across two levels as well as outdoor floodlit synthetic football pitches. It also boasts a 100-station gymnasium and a multi-purpose sports hall that can accommodate trampoline training to an international standard.

Enhanced connectivity

Washington Leisure Centre has been designed and built with connectivity in mind; building rich links with the immediate surroundings, with the local area and amongst the local community.

The overall approach to the architecture is ‘soft’, with architect firm Watson Batty Architects utilising a combination of timber and insulated composite cladding panels, with sedum roofing to knit the building into its green surroundings of Princess Anne Park.

Thoughtfully positioned glazed areas from Reynaers enhance this connectivity between the internal and external spaces whilst maintaining privacy for visitors. Large panels of curtain walling reflect the sky above, contrasted against and complemented by the natural wood beams. From an interior perspective, visitors can enjoy a light and open space in which to relax, exercise and socialise.

Prioritising the safety and experience of visitors, access has also been improved with separated vehicular and pedestrian movement. Visitors on foot are welcomed through a tree-lined avenue, an informal ‘meet and greet’ area, whereas cars arrive in an expansive car park.

Architect’s insight

Watson Batty Architects won a competitive pitch to secure the contract with the local council to design, specify and build Washington Leisure Centre, together with contractor Pellikaan Construction.

Rima Yousif, Regional Director at Watson Batty Architects, said: “The brief was simple: to design and build a leisure centre to accommodate a range of wet and dry facilities. “Like any project, however, it wasn’t without its challenges. For a start, we were restricted by the original leisure centre which remained operational until the new premises was complete. This meant that our space was limited, as well as needing us to be cautious of noise and disturbance to existing visitors. It wasn’t until we opened the doors to the new facility that the original one was demolished and the space was used to create the outdoor floodlit football pitch and the car park.

“The old leisure centre, originally constructed in the 1960s, was outdated and needed a fresh, new approach. Built using concrete, it had been added to and extended over the years. This proved the popularity of sports and leisure activities in the area, so to meet this growing demand we created a beautiful and functional facility.

“A characteristic feature of the old leisure centre was elevated footpaths to a first floor entrance. Our scheme proposal, however, involved a first floor entrance in accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in order to enhance accessibility for everyone, without compromising the strong community connections. There remains the same element of interest for pedestrian visitors through the park, maximising the fantastic green location.”

Reynaers’ insight

The Reynaers systems incorporated into this approach are Vision 50 doors as well as both CW 50 and CW 50-SC curtain walling.

Rebecca Cope, Marketing Manager at Reynaers, said: “The Reynaers product range is built with the end-user in mind, and the Washington Leisure Centre brings a wealth of opportunity and benefits to the Sunderland community.

“The use of large panels is perfect for this contemporary build and floods the leisure centre with light, allowing maximised natural light and green views for physical and mental wellbeing.

“Efficiency and security are also key considerations for specifiers on projects such as Washington Leisure Centre, so our high-performing aluminium products provided the perfect solution to ensure high-scoring energy ratings as well as outstanding aesthetics.”

Vision 50 is a non-insulated flush door system offering solutions for high-traffic, ground-floor areas. The system provides the ideal combination of premium performance and ease of production, and safety can be maximised with anti-finger traps for added safety.

Offering unlimited design freedom and maximum transparency, CW 50 is a curtain walling system available in several aesthetic, technical and glazing variants to comply with all visual and performance requirements. Washington Leisure Centre also uses CW 50-SC, the structurally clamped variant. Depending on the profile combination, CW 50-SC can achieve a Uf value as low as 0.56 W/m2k.

Watson Batty is committed to creating sustainable design solutions that enrich its context. Rima Yousif said: “Maintaining consistent internal temperatures without too much heat gain or loss is essential for the comfort of those using the pool or gym, as well as wind load resistance and acoustic performance to ensure no external disturbances. We therefore chose Reynaers for the quality and thermal performance of the products.

“We had excellent service throughout the entire project, from inspection of concept design, all the way through to technical support and delivery. We at Watson Batty recommended Reynaers for the project and without a doubt would specify them on future projects.”

Fiona Brown, Sunderland City Council’s Executive Director of People Services, said: “It’s been fantastic to see the opening of the Washington Leisure Centre with all the excellent facilities it has to offer.

“The new centre is a real asset for the area. It’s also an important part of our continuing commitment to physical activity, sport and leisure and the work we’ve been involved in for some time to encourage more people to be more active.”

In September 2016, there were 3624 Active Card members who attended the facility on 25,954 occasions.

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