The building, designed by Bennetts Associates and Arup Architecture, features an indoor sports hall and a health and fitness suite over two levels. The sports hall has been built to Sport England standards and can be used as four badminton courts, a basketball court, a volleyball court or a five-a-side football pitch.
The building’s position, just three metres above the underground tunnels of the Thameslink railway line, created a unique design challenge meaning the building needed to be designed using lightweight materials and with shallow foundations.
The Sports Hall, built by BAM, is primarily constructed using a cross laminated timber (CLT) frame and glulam timber columns, a natural alternative to steel and concrete that is both lightweight and carbon friendly. It is clad in zinc and has a super-lightweight concrete substructure that runs perpendicular to the tunnels to prevent concentrated loads. The serrated roof and façades of the building are a nod to its railway context and heritage.
Designed to meet a near zero carbon target, several innovative features were incorporated into the design, including various methods of ventilation and the use of glazing to provide daylight while reducing heat gains. The building also benefits from its connection to the King's Cross Central District Heating and Cooling Network, an efficient system for heating all the buildings at King’s Cross that means that conventional boilers are not required.
The building’s sustainability credentials are further bolstered by the fact it was designed to have multiple lives. When it opens, the gym and fitness suite on the upper floor will be open to the public, however for a time the sports hall will be the home of the Construction Skills Centre. This is a temporary fixture until the skills centre moves to their new home in Euston, at which point the sports hall will open to the public.
Q2 posed some unusual challenges. It sat over three Victorian brickwork live Network Rail tunnels serving King’s Cross Station. This required very precise tunnel monitoring; our careful methodologies avoided any complications. The technical tunnel works were conducted with painstaking care and attention to detail. We conducted extensive tests on the bespoke concrete mix to ensure it wasn’t too heavy. This regime affected batching plant operations, and meant independent testing on site, and re-weighing before a pour commenced. The timber also had its technical aspects, CLT’s moisture retaining properties making it hard to dry. We came up with a vented design solution where we could install the roofing membrane and allow air/moisture to escape so the timber dried out. This worked very successfully.C. Clues, PM, BAM