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On site: Duggan Morris’ timber roofed swimming pool and sports hall

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Work is nearing completion on this £1.8 million sports and swimming pool complex designed by Duggan Morris for an all-girl special needs school

The 750m² new building at Alfriston school, which features an ‘inverted’ three-pitch timber roof, houses a four-lane swimming pool, changing areas, gymnasium, fitness suite and offices. The practice originally won the project in January 2008 following an invited contest.

As well as the design, the firm has been involved in fundraising and consulting on the school business plan, including ‘potential class timetables, wider community use, lifetime and running costs’.

The scheme is set to finish this spring.

Building Alfriston school pool

Joe Morris, co-founder, Duggan Morris

‘The scheme has a floating timber hat, articulated by three pitched-roof segments which open out to the rear, inverting the pitch. This sculptural form, which is equally expressive internally, also serves as an acoustic baffle, thus preventing a high reverberation of sound – a crucial aspect of the brief in consideration of the specific needs of the end users.

‘The construction of the pool roof features a series of prefabricated modules of ‘truss and panel’, all built from cross-laminated timber. The erection of the roof structure, which is left fully exposed internally, took a matter of weeks once the panels arrived.

‘Each truss spans the full width of the pool building and bears its load onto a series of small perimeter columns, which lift the roof form clear from the pool, itself expressed as a monolithic plinth. The appearance is therefore of a floating structure, which is completed with an articulated ribbon of low-level glazing, providing clear views into the playing fields from within the pool itself.’

Duggan Morris Alfriston

Project data

Principal architect Duggan Morris Architects
Project architect Mary Duggan, David Storring
Start on site April 2013
Contract duration 11 months
Gross internal floor area 420m²
Procurement JCT Design and Build
Total cost £1.8 million
Structural engineer Elliott Wood Partnership
M&E Skelly & Couch
Quantity surveyor Appleyard & Trew
Lighting consultant Skelly & Couch
Main contractor Feltham Construction

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