Kings College School
King's College School is an independent day school for boys aged 7-18 and girls aged 16-18. Founded in 1829 by royal charter, it is a school of over 1300 pupils and is one of the most academically successful schools in the world. David Morley Architects were delighted to win an invited competition to design a new sports complex at the school.
The project combines two phases of development incorporating a mix of new build and re-modelling of existing facilities, to include a new indoor multi-use sports hall with expanded facilities for strength and conditioning, exercise and aerobics, linked to the existing sports centre, together with a new 6-lane 25m indoor swimming pool to replace the existing outdated facility.
The site is set within the West Wimbledon Conservation Area and bordered on two sides by grade II and grade II* listed buildings. The design has therefore been developed to be sensitive to this historical setting, with a gently sculpted green roof helping the new building form to blend in with the surroundings.
Planning permission was awarded in December 2016 and the practice is currently engaged in developing the detailed design for construction.
The design strategy aims to create excellent visual connections between indoors and outdoors. In particular, external views of the swimming pool will contribute to an appearance which fits its context but also befits a forward looking school which seeks to promote a healthy active lifestyle. The design concept maximises the capacity of the site and incorporates the extended project brief.
Three linked pavilions
The new facilities form a set of three linked pavilions with the sports hall and the swimming pool located either side of a central pavilion. The central pavilion is two storeys high and contains the sports centre reception and changing rooms at ground level with viewing galleries, a strength and conditioning suite, exercise area and aerobics studio above.
The sports hall and swimming pool are aligned with their short axes across the width of the site. This allows sufficient space to circulate along either edge of the site and ensures that the main building volumes are well set back from the adjacent Southside House and Gothic Lodge.
Internally the six badminton court sized sports hall has been conceived as an integration of elegant structure with simple and easy to operate lighting, ventilation and heating solutions. Durability and flexibility have been considered a priority over performance for any one particular sport. Externally the sports hall form provides counterpoint to the swimming pool in the composition of the three linked pavilions.
The 32.5m length pool hall is intended to be an uplifting environment, expressed both internally, with a dynamic glulam roof structure, and externally, with its profile prominent in the views from the Lodge and the playing fields. The under-croft offers opportunities to keep the physical environment of the pool hall clear of clutter, integrating the ventilation and heating solutions as well as pool equipment such as lane ropes and pool covers. Glazing is proposed to three sides, allowing views out for users and a sense of transparency through between the Lodge and the playing fields.
The swimming pool frames a new garden space in front of the Lodge which will enrich the hierarchy of open spaces throughout the school.