Planning approval for FaulknerBrowns designed Britannia Leisure Centre

Hackney Council has received planning approval from the Local Planning Authority—pending second stage approval from the GLA—for a state-of-the art leisure centre next to Shoreditch Park, as part of a wider masterplan which includes a new secondary school and hundreds of new homes – including 81 for social rent and shared ownership.

The leisure centre has been designed by FaulknerBrowns Architects and will replace the existing Britannia Leisure Centre, which will remain open until the new centre is complete. Feilden Clegg Bradley Studio is responsible for the masterplan for the whole site, including the design of the housing and new school.

The new leisure centre will include a six-lane, 25m main pool; training pool; leisure water; a six-court sports hall; four squash courts; fitness suite; exercise studios; creche and soft play area; and a café which will be available to Shoreditch Park users. In addition, there are two tennis courts and two 5-a-side football pitches located on the roof of the building.

The design proposal represents a considered approach to the horizontal layering of the required leisure facilities. Minimising the building’s overall footprint in this way has allowed for a new public square to be created on the northern edge of the site. This animated civic space between the leisure centre and proposed residential buildings acts as a welcoming new gateway into Shoreditch Park, ensuring maximum visibility of the leisure centre and park.

The external skin of the building reinforces the building’s plan. The visually dynamic pool halls, café, fitness suite, exercise studios and soft play areas are positioned on the external perimeter of the plan so that they are all highly visible from the new square, Pitfield Street and Shoreditch Park, whilst the cellular changing accommodation is positioned in its heart. This strategy encourages participation in sport and creates an active building frontage to the surrounding context.

The elegant and robust external envelope has been designed to bring legible order to the layered arrangement of the internal sports spaces. The systematic envelope design is executed with a neutral colour palette and measured material selection. This allows the internal sports spaces and the people within the building to provide the colour, character and animation to the building elevations.

The principles of inclusivity and accessibility have played a significant role in the design strategy for the new centre. In developing the changing facilities the design team has consulted closely with Project Indigo, Hackney Council’s LGBTQ youth group and counselling service for young LGBTQ people or for people who are questioning their sexual or gender identity.

As a result the toilet and changing accommodation within the wet and dry changing areas has been designed to provide choice. Visitors are able to select the environment which best suits their needs, from individual wet and dry changing accommodation, with dedicated showers and toilets in the dry changing areas, to group changing facilities. This approach sets a new benchmark for inclusive changing facilities in a public facility of this type.

Steve McIntyre, Partner at FaulknerBrowns Architects, said:

“We are delighted with the outcome of the planning committee. This represents a huge step forward in the delivery of the new leisure centre in Shoreditch. This along with a new school, residential accommodation and fantastic new public realm, demonstrates the commitment the council has in delivering high quality architecture and spaces for the residents of Hackney.”

Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney, said:

“Hackney needs improved leisure provision, hundreds of more school places and thousands of new homes. Our proposals help deliver on all of these. I’m very proud that, despite ongoing government cuts to our funding, our Council is finding innovative ways to keep investing in our communities.”

“The current leisure centre simply doesn’t deliver the standard of provision or access that Hackney’s diverse communities expect, need and deserve now and in the future. The new centre will be better in almost every way and preserves many of the family friendly elements we know that people value.”