The University of Warwick consistently features in the top 10 of all major domestic rankings of British universities. It is among the world’s most targeted university institutions by employers and, in 2015, was named the world’s third best “young university” (contested by higher education institutions that are less than 50 years old).
With 4,950 undergraduates entering each year, the university has a vision to be the most active campus in the UK. To help it achieve this ambitious aspiration, the university made a commitment to upgrade its sports and wellness facilities.
At the heart of a £49m investment in the university’s sports infrastructure was the Sports and Wellness hub. With the intention of providing opportunities for indoor and outdoor activities – and linking the hub to other facilities via a network of paths, cycle ways, and activity areas – the university appointed David Morley Architects to design the facility.
“The vision was to create an iconic building for the university, where activity could be seen, in order to encourage participation,” said David Morley Architects. “The brief also included providing stunning views to the surrounding landscape.”
The University wanted to use the hub to build upon and further enhance its national and international reputation by delivering inspirational, high quality facilities and programmes. It also wanted the new facility to drive participation in sport and activity, while also promoting health and wellness among students and staff.
Designed by David Morley Architects, the end result is a world-class facility fit for a best-in-class university. The 1,550sq m Sports and Wellness Hub showcases the best of smart building technology in a leisure context.
It features a multi-functional sports hall, sized to a 16 badminton-court layout; a 25m, 12-lane swimming pool with flexible configuration and adjustable floor; and a health club with two fitness suites, flexible studio spaces and a 230-station gym – the biggest gym in the higher education sector.
There are also six squash courts, a combat hall, outdoor sports pitches and a dramatic 17m-high indoor climbing and bouldering wall, encompassing 706sq m of climbable surface and 144 different climbing routes.
The Hub has replaced all existing sporting facilities on campus and is set to be one of the leading sports facilities at a UK university.
David Morley Architects’ design for the building has resulted in it being “expressed” in three clear parts. This is to help manage the large volume spaces, such as the sports hall and swimming hall, and to control the scale and mass with an entrance pavilion. The parts have been linked together with an atrium that allows views to all the main activity areas.
As well as being popular with students and the public, the facility has also attracted elite athletes to the site. The Hub is now the official training ground of Coventry’s Wasps Netball super-league team.
“We believe the hub will be one of the finest facilities of its kind in the UK,” says Lisa Dodd-Mayne, Director of Sport & Active Communities, University of Warwick.
“The moment you walk through the door, you’ll be able to see a vast range of sports taking place – it is an incredible space bursting with activities for all ages and abilities. There are also plenty of areas to watch family and friends enjoying the activities they love.
“We have a vision to ensure that we have the most active community in the UK and that’s why we invested £49m into sport and wellness across the university.”
According to Andy Reed, SAPCA Chair, the project is a worthy winner.
“I was delighted to see this project win as it encapsulates all that SAPCA is striving to do to create an Active Nation – thinking differently about the way we build our environment to encourage greater participation and physical activity,” Reed says.
“I know David Morley Architects have embraced this vision in their work and this latest project is a great showcase for what can be achieved.
“The SAPCA Awards competition recognises the achievements of SAPCA member companies each year, and promotes the best examples of outstanding quality within the sports facility construction industry.
“The new Sports Hub at Warwick University is a very worthy overall winner for 2018 – congratulations to everyone at David Morley Architects that was involved in such a magnificent project.”