Studio E was the lead consultant, with a full team of sub-consultants on this multi-faceted and complex project, at the heart of which is a new leisure centre for the London Borough of Hounslow in Heston. It comprises six linked sites which were submitted for planning approval as a single application and then executed under four separate client bodies. The enabling funding generated by two of the sites was critical to the viability and eventual success of the project.
The Heston Baths date from 1936 and was a 33 1/3 yard pool adjoining Heston Park. The building offered poor quality facilities which were too small. It was highly inefficient to run and a radical intervention was required to be able to provide 21st century facilities for local residents.
Sites A & B
These two open sites adjoining Heston Park had been earmarked for residential development. The larger Site A received outline approval for 118 residential units in blocks ranging from two to five storeys. This site was sold to a commercial developer and this provided the lion’s share of the project funding.
Site B received outline approval for 88 units. The original submission was tenure neutral but the client decided to develop these as affordable housing.
The existing Baths site enjoyed good proximity and views to the park but the access to the site was restricted to a 4m gap between the existing library and the residential neighbour on New Heston Road. The freehold to the neighbouring property was held by an RSL who wished to develop the site but they were restricted by the proximity to the road and their other neighbours. Studio E’s proposal for a landswop was picked up and the housing association was able to develop 14 new units over four storeys on a new site behind the library and with the new street frontage the approach to the leisure centre was opened up, giving greater visibility achieving a simpler parking arrangement.
An existing scouts troop needed to be relocated to free up Site C. Their timber frame hut may have been as old as the leisure centre and Studio E was able to move them into an existing brick building on the site which was converted and renovated for their use.
The main landscape improvements to Heston Park were also undertaken through Studio E. These include three five-a-side 3G pitches with lighting and roof nets, refurbished tennis courts, two new cricket nets, an artificial cricket wicket and a new running track. General park improvements focused on creating a new adventure play trail, new and upgraded entrances, new furniture, new landforms and new planting.
The site is constricted. It overlaps the ‘Public Open Space’ boundary on the park side and the desire was to keep parking numbers up. The boundary to the east is low scale and therefore Studio E’s design could not overwhelm or overlook the adjoining houses. The accommodation naturally splits between wet and dry changing on the ground and dry on the upper floor. The pools wanted to be on the north to limit the risk of glare and this is also the park side where there are opportunities for views out.
The building is 100m from the street and the designers felt it needed to announce itself, so a rich blue glazed terracotta rainscreen was specified for the street-facing elevation. Floor-to-ceiling glazing provides a dramatic shop window to the main studio at the first floor. The roof oversails to create a double-height portico and an illuminated building sign sits above. Studio E created a dual entrance in recognition that visitors would be coming from several directions. The cafe is located next to the children’s play area and is intended to equally serve the park visitors and leisure centre users.
- 25m pool and 8 x 12m learner pool
- 90-place fitness suite
- Two studios and one spin studio
- Wet and dry changing facilities
- Single-sex health suites – steam and sauna
- Soft play – double-height