UK’s first passive leisure centre nears completion

UK’s first passive leisure centre nears completion

St Sidwell’s Point Leisure Centre in Exeter, the first passive-certified leisure centre in the UK, is set to open to the public on 29 April

This article was originally published in issue 41 of Passive House Plus magazine. Want immediate access to all back issues and exclusive extra content? Click here to subscribe for as little as €10, or click here to receive the next issue free of charge

The Passive House Institute has previously certified two swimming pool buildings in Germany, but this is a more substantial building that accommodates not only two swimming pools and a toddlers’ pool but also seating for 100 spectators, a 100-station gym, a spin studio, a dance studio, a health suite with spa facilities and a hydrotherapy pool, plus a café and a creche. Gale & Snowden Architects worked with the institute to agree a bespoke set of technical standards for the building and a certification methodology.

Designed for Exeter City Council by Gale & Snowden with SSP Architects, Arup engineers and main contractor Kier, the £42 million, multi-level, multi-zone building stands on a prominent, sloping site in the centre of Exeter. The passive house energy use target of 375 kWh/m2/yr (which the team expects to beat) compares with 1,579 kWh/m2/yr for a typical leisure centre and 737 kWh/m2/yr for a good practice building. There are also component targets for energy use by each item of major plant, for example 40 kWh/m2/yr for pool filtration. The building is designed to achieve 50 per cent water savings compared with a typical leisure centre, and to be climate resilient up until 2080. Exeter City Council expects 500,000 visitors per year.

Gale & Snowden provided passive house consultancy, dynamic thermal monitoring to support the approaches to passive house and climate resilience, building biology consultancy (including selection of materials) and the building envelope design. SSP provided interior design including the swimming pools. The pools are daylit via split-level, south-facing triple glazed curtain walls to maximise solar gains. Internal brise soleil eliminate reflections and glare from the pool surfaces, which would otherwise interfere with spectators’ viewing.

Passive House Plus will feature an in-depth case study of St Sidwell’s Point Leisure Centre in an upcoming issue.