Broadgate Club West, designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, is a luxury gym/leisure facility intended to set a new standard in health-club design. We review the building and a range of the practice’s current projects
Client’s account NICK VAUGHAN
The Broadgate Club The opportunity arose in the summer of 1996 to create a new health and leisure facility within the ground floor of the Triton Square building, designed by Arup Associates, on British Land’s Regent’s Place development.
The new facility would be a sister club to the successful Broadgate Club, which opened in 1989 as part of the Broadgate development in the City of London, and it would need to be built to the same high specification.
The brief for those invited to participate in the architectural competition was to create a new design direction for the interior of the club, providing an ambience which was both luxurious and relaxed.
A key aim was that it should make a statement to the health and fitness industry about the future direction of club design and about how design helps to meet the needs of members.
Allford Hall Monaghan Morris won the competition in early December 1996, with a completely fresh and innovative approach. The proposal was for a facility combining the functionality required of a club attracting more than 1000 visitors a day, with a design that exploited the creative use of space, light and materials.
The project started on site on 1 August 1997, and it is a great testimony to the whole professional team that the club was delivered on time and that members were exercising and enjoying the club on 1 December that year.
Architect’s account PAUL MONAGHAN Allford Hall Monaghan Morris Architects
The City club’s main feature is a blue tile mural by Howard Hodgkin. Inspired by this, although more Rothko than Hodgkin, we enveloped the Broadgate Club West in a glazed back-lit ‘Blue Wall’ which wraps from the entrance facade through the full length of the club, emerging on the rear elevation. This wall articulates the two distinctive spatial requirements demanded by the brief; on the one hand open-plan areas for the gym and bar, and on the other cellular rooms for the offices, changing rooms, a Charles Worthington hairdressing salon and other ancillary functions.
There is a clear route from reception to changing rooms to activity areas. The pristine white changing rooms are arranged either side of a deep-blue, tiled rectangular area which contains all the wet services. The lockers are arranged adjacently in a series of bays. Echoing the rhythm of the bays, a sinusoidal glass reinforced ceiling floats above this area.
On the gym side of the building, members are free to choose various activities, including the dance studio, sunbeds, training rooms and the gym itself. Life Fitness provided all the equipment in the gym; everything is computerised, allowing members to develop individual workout programmes, set by merely keying in their individual PIN number. Within the gym, the walls are kept clear and all mirror stands, towel dispensers and drinking fountains are positioned as free-standing elements.
After their workout members can relax in the bar, designed as a more tranquil space, and providing a focal point for the club’s buoyant social activities.
The varied range of facilities offered all required separate and flexible environmental controls. The pressure to maximise floor space for club activities demanded that the majority of the plant be suspended from the first-floor slab.
Accessibility to these services generated a simple solution where the larger areas, such as the gym, bar and dance studio, used a fully accessible expanded metal ceiling. In other areas access panels were carefully co-ordinated within the plasterboard ceilings.
This project offered the opportunity of working with several other designers. Our firm had collaborated with the graphic designer Studio Myerscough on several exhibitions, including ‘Under £50k’, ‘Designing for Doctors’, ‘Strangely Familiar’ and on a hoarding for British Land in the City. SM was commissioned to develop all aspects of the marketing literature, update the corporate identity of the new club and ensure all graphics and signage were fully integrated with the architecture.
The most visible aspect of this collaboration was the design of the arcade elevation to the gym, where translucent glazing incorporates a strip mixing discrete views on to the gym with coloured bands and haikus emphasising the club’s holistic approach to healthcare. In the gym SM developed the signage on the floor and columns which allows new members to easily orientate themselves around the equipment.
As part of the corporate identity a torch, the Broadgate Club’s logo, was commissioned from the pewter designer Eleanor Kearney. The torch itself will eventually be displayed in the bar while the image of it is used to mark the entrance.
The furniture designer Andrew Stafford was commissioned to design the locker-room benches, which were made from white Corian placed on a stainless steel tubular frame. For consistency Corian was also used for all the handrails, vanity units and coat hooks.
The fast-track programme demanded that the construction information be separated into 20 packages which were issued to Kvaerner Trollope and Colls on a weekly basis over a period of five months. We worked closely with subcontractors and relied heavily on the experience and guidance provided by KTC’s team, which continues to have a relationship with the club, monitoring on a monthly basis the performance of the building.
Appraisal ISABEL ALLEN Buildings Editor, The Architects’ Journal
The promotional brochure for Broadgate Club West features seductive close-ups of the building, but wisely avoids images of the surrounding Euston Road. In real life, the Broadgate Centre, emanating other-worldly coloured light, seems to be setting itself apart from the drabness of Euston Road - an alien from an exotic land, set to colonise a hostile environment. Its dash of West End glamour will doubtless be a comfort to staff at the First Bank of Chicago, freshly transplanted from Covent Garden to offices above the new Broadgate Club.
The colour-kissed translucency which dominates the building serves as a visual antidote to members’ most frequent complaint: there is no swimming pool. Doubtless there are those who feel fidgety without their 50 lengths a day, but, as all good hoteliers know, the true value of a swimming pool lies in its ability to transform the spaces which surround it. Just as Paxton Locher puts pools in houses not to provide a place for exercise, or to push property prices up, but as a means of bringing light and movement into an otherwise soulless space, AHMM, consciously or not, has created a metaphorical pool. Walls shimmer, light bounces off surfaces, and bodies are bathed in a Mediterranean glow.
A flick of the switch transforms illuminated walls from swimming-pool blue, to purple, green, or sugar-candy pink. While it is tempting to flaunt this chameleon-like character, the architect is counselling constraint. Walls do change colour, but not all the time. This shows a canny understanding of the nature of a club: this is not a one-hit wonder, ready to yield up all its secrets at a glance: only the regular visitor will experience the full extent of its charms. This is the architectural equivalent of a loyalty card.
Luxury gyms have to feel opulent - a place for the fashionable to be pampered, not for the plebeian to continue the tedious fight against pudginess. Inevitably, there are casualties of the mis-match between the limited budget and the impression of limitless wealth. A proposed outdoor terrace acting as spillover space from the bar has had to be jettisoned. Ceilings lack the finesse of the project as a whole: the vast array of services, painted a uniform black, is screened by low-cost metal panels, but generous floor-toceiling heights ensure that members are scarcely aware of it overhead.
Surfaces within members’ reach are expensively finished. From its navy-style portholes to its navyblue tiles, the changing/ shower area is detailed with care. Hotel typology is turned inside out, as changing rooms and showers are elevated from servant space to centrepiece, becoming both the hallowed ground where members are pampered, and the essential transition space between reception and gym. The balance between the need for efficient processing of time-pushed punters and an air of luxury and space for the more leisurely inclined has been successfully achieved as a result of endless discussions in the AHMM office about how exactly to position the partition walls.
Offices and changing rooms have been squeezed into the irregular portion of the building-shell bequeathed by Arup Associates, leaving a large, clear rectangle to house the gymnasium and bar. Walls of screen-printed and back-lit glass combine with Studio Myerscough’s coloured signage to impose colour and coherence on the mysterious-looking machinery in the gym.
But the composition is somewhat marred by a bank of TV screens installed by the owner of the gym to alleviate the tedium of exercise. Aeroplanestyle, the screen is always too high and too far away, so that watching from a jogging machine induces the nightmare sensation of running to be sick on a jumbo jet but never getting any closer to the WC .
The abundance of space and light in the public areas has been achieved at the expense of the staff quarters. Offices are accessed off a narrow corridor, and have no natural light. This reflects the commercial priorities of the club. Fees are high, and members reign supreme. But employees can console themselves that they alone have access to the most weird-and-wonderful space in the building: the long, narrow cavity inside the backlit glass wall to the gym. Three long fluorescent lights in green and pink and blue run the length of the space, reflected in the sheet of glass which they are designed to illuminate: a futuristic corridor of which any installation artist could be justly proud.
Cost comment MICHAEL OLDHAM Davis Langdon & Everest
Completion for the 1 December 1997 public opening was essential and, allowing for installation of equipment, staff training and final commissioning, the contract had to be completed by the end of October.
Procurement was in effect on a two-stage basis, with Kvaerner Trollope & Colls appointed after competitive tender for preliminaries and management of the contract but with subcontracts tendered open-book afterwards, and engaged as domestic subcontractors to KTC. The contract basis adopted was a JCT standard form, providing a GMP for the scheme without the main contractor risk on top of the in-built subcontractor risk that can sometimes be an unwanted part of a GMP route. Stringent, value-driven cost control was exercised, delivering the scheme within budget while allowing additional direct client expenditure.
FNBC did not fully occupy the major building until noisy work was completed, but the access regime placed some limitations on deliveries and handling.
Acoustic treatment was important, while the high level of environmental control, combined with service zone restrictions and remote plant, added a small premium to the services costs from bespoke items of equipment. The ‘blue wall’ and vaulted ceilings, while more costly than traditional solutions, were very competitively priced and contribute significantly to the end product.
The cost analysis includes the necessary associated costs of fitting out the arcade (excluded from the areas given).
EXTERNAL WALLS, WINDOWS, DOORS £114.70/ m2 Natural anodised aluminium double-glazed cladding system including acid etching, text and logos and glass fins internally, glass doors (including fire escapes); low-level back-lit spandrel panel to arcade elevation and full-height backlit spandrel panel to secondary elevations; perforated metal radiator casings
INTERNAL WALLS AND PARTITIONS £132.27/ m2 Blockwork walls and steel wind posts to changing areas and all wet areas, full-height glazed wall with glass fins and multicoloured fully programmable lighting system to gymnasium; drywall metal stud partitions elsewhere.
INTERNAL DOORS £26.67/ m2 Full-height painted timber doors generally; full-height painted pivot doors to main corridors; stainless steel ironmongery.
INTERNAL FINISHES WALL FINISHES £41.35/ m2 Drylining to existing concrete/blockwork walls; ceramic tiling to changing areas, showers, WCs and kitchen; timber veneered WC cubicles; painted walls elsewhere
FLOOR FINISHES £93.71/ m2 Generally screeded throughout (except gymnasium and dance studio); polished limestone flooring to main entrance area; Wilton carpet to bar and changing rooms; tiling to showers, WCs and franchise area; maple sprung flooring to gymnasium and dance studio; vinyl/linoleum to treatment and sunbed rooms; carpet tiles to back of house areas.
CEILING FINISHES £80.75/ m2 Vaulted GRG ceiling to main changing rooms and shower areas; Durlum perforated metal tile suspended ceilings and plasterboard margins to gymnasium, dance studio, bar and back of house areas; plasterboard suspended ceilings elsewhere; plasterboard acoustic ceiling fixed to soffit of slab in gymnasium and dance studio
FITTINGS AND FURNISHINGS FURNITURE £138.65/ m2 Saunas; steam rooms; lockers; Corian vanitory units; main reception desk (including multi-coloured backlighting); mirrors to dance studio and franchise; free-standing mirrors to gymnasium; gymnasium reception desks and stretch rails; franchise fit-out; bar fit-out; towel stores; back of house and treatment area fittings; basement storage area
SERVICES SANITARY APPLIANCES £14.57/ m2 White vitreous china WCs, basins, urinals and showers; hand dryers, soap dispensers, shower heads and drinking fountains
DISPOSAL INSTALLATIONS £14.09/ m2 Above-ground drainage, soil, waste and vent; basement plant-room drainage
WATER INSTALLATIONS £32.67/ m2 Incoming mains; high-volume hot water to feed showers; cold water; pumps; basement storage tank
SPACE HEATING AND AIR TREATMENT £211.47/ m2 Remote gas-fired boiler, flues, calorifiers and pressurisation equipment; mini air-handing units and bespoke four-pipe fan coil unit (including attenuation and chillers) to gymnasium, dance studio and bar; extract system to showers and changing rooms; separate extract system for WCs; fire-rated kitchen extract exhausting at high level; electrically operated perimeter heating; underfloor heating to changing areas
ELECTRICAL SERVICES £71.05/ m2 LY incoming mains; mains switch panel; distribution boards; general lighting including emergency lights; feature lighting to gymnasium, bar and entrance hall; general power including power track for gymnasium equipment; three-phase supply for sunbeds; electrical work in connection with mechanical services; earthing and bonding
PROTECTIVE INSTALLATIONS £6.49/ m2 Facade drenching system to arcade elevation and provision for future expansion in retail areas
COMMUNICATION INSTALLATIONS £71.83/ m2 Analogue addressable fire-alarm system including interface with base building system; telephone and data wireways; closed-circuit television system, security system; access control to main entrance and basement entrance; disabled WCand shower alarm; BMS system
BUILDER’S WORK IN CONNECTION £36.72/ m2 Includes remedial work to existing building
PRELIMINARIES AND INSURANCES PRELIMINARIES, OVERHEADS AND PROFITS £104.57/m
EXTERNAL WORKS LANDSCAPING/WORK IN PUBLIC HIGHWAY £118,000 Granite paving to arcade; external-quality plasterboard suspended ceiling; lighting; roller shutters Cost summary Cost per m2 Per cent (£) of total
SUPERSTRUCTURE External walls 114.70 9.62 Internal walls and partitions 132.27 11.10 Internal doors 26.67 2.24 Group element total 273.64 22.96
INTERNAL FINISHES Wall finishes 41.35 3.47 Floor finishes 93.71 7.86 Ceiling finishes 80.75 6.78 Group element total 215.81 18.11
FITTINGS AND FURNITURE 138.6511.64
SERVICES Sanitary appliances 14.57 1.22 Disposal installations 14.09 1.18 Water installations 32.67 2.74 Space heating and air treatment 211.47 17.75 Electrical services 71.05 5.96 Protective installations 6.49 0.55 Communication installation 71.83 6.03 Builder’s work in connection 36.72 3.08 Group element total 458.89 38.51
PRELIMINARIES AND INSURANCE 104.578.78 Total 1191.56 100.00
CLIENT The Broadgate Club plc; The British Land Company
ARCHITECT Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
Architects: Simon Allford, Reenie Elliot, Jonathan Hall, Viktor Johanssen , Victor Kite , Susan LeGood, Paul Monaghan, Peter Morris, Louise Munch, Steve Perkins, Nina Quesnel
CONTRACT ADMINISTRATOR BSA QUANTITY SURVEYOR Davis Langdon & Everest
SERVICES ENGINEER Monal Associates
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER CCP Consulting Engineers
FIRE SAFETY CONSULTANT Arup Fire
ACOUSTIC CONSULTANT Arup Acoustics
GRAPHIC DESIGN Studio Myerscough
FURNITURE DESIGN Stafford
TORCH DESIGN Eleanor Kearney
MAIN CONTRACTOR Kvaerner Trollope and Colls
SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS services Inner City Environmental, external cladding and blue wall glazing Pollards Fyrespan, blue wall lighting and audio-visual equipment Atmospherics, stone flooring, wall and floor ceramic tiling Marriott & Price, gym equipment Life Fitness, ironmongery Allgoods, bar/kitchen The Compass Group & Design Counters, signage Take Notice, metal panel ceilings Durlum, furniture Conran Contracts, joinery Trollope & Colls Elliot, specialist joinery Charles Barrett Interiors, lockers, saunas and steam rooms Dalesauna, timber floors Tarkett, specialist metalwork Qualart