Swimming Pool Hall at King’s College School
Education & Public Sector Winner 2020
Location – Wimbledon
Architect – David Morley Architects
Client – King’s College Wimbledon
Structural engineer – Price & Myers
Main contractor – Knight Harwood
Timber contractor – B&K Structures
Joinery – Suffolk and Essex Joinery Ltd
Wood supplier – Metsa Group Ltd
Species – spruce, pine, fir, larch (European)
“The different timber elements all have the same white-washed tone and coordinate perfectly with the reinforced concrete columns, creating a beautiful place which has an intimacy that most pools lack.” —Kirsten Haggart
A series of undulating, wave-like beams make up the ceiling of the new swimming pool hall at Kings College School in Wimbledon. Mimicking the shape of water in motion, the curved glulam beams support CLT roof panels with integrated timber acoustic linings. The white-stained beams subtly reflect the natural light of the airy space, as well as that of artificial uplighters – no light fixings are necessary above the pool itself.
The swimming pool hall is one of three leisure spaces created for the school’s new sports centre. Housed within a complex of Grade 2- and Grade 2*-listed buildings, its exterior necessarily sweeps down to respect the boundary of the adjacent Grade 2*-listed Southside House. Internally, however, the timber elements sweep upwards to create a viewing gallery. The space visually knits together indoor and outdoor elements, with the flush pool edge and glazing on all three sides offering views to the outside and connecting swimmers to nature.
Timber works particularly well as a material for pools, the architects noted, due to its resilience to moisture where other materials are corrosion-prone. The pool hall’s concrete support columns are subjected to direct water contact, but the rest of the structure is constructed entirely out of wood. In addition to wood’s resilient properties, the use of timber for the superstructure, rather than steel or concrete, saves in excess of 100 tons of carbon emissions.