The future of leisure
Nick Mennell, leisure sector manager at Willmott Dixon, talks about his recent visit to the world-class University of Warwick Sports Hub
Being inspired is a crucial part of being innovative; it fires the imagination and sparks new ideas.
I’m constantly looking for leisure projects with the ‘wow’ factor that create such inspiration. I’d heard great things about our Sports and Wellness Hub for University of Warwick – and was not to be disappointed!
I have travelled the world seeing and experiencing leisure facilities, from the UK to the USA, Europe to Africa. I can tell you this: Warwick’s facility is up there with the best.
More than just a building
On my approach, what immediately hit me was the sheer size of the facility. What was even more impressive was the experience I felt as I stepped through the door.
The Hub showcases the best of smart building technology in a leisure context. For example, the use of coolant technology allows the right temperature for any given sport and the right lighting for certain rooms at certain times of the day, like wellness rooms for yoga. By creating this ambience, the user experience is fully maximised.
Attention to detail is impressive. Psychology played a major part in the design of the building to make people feel welcome. The user journey through the building flows perfectly, with easy access to all levels, rooms and activities. The minute I stepped inside, I saw a ‘wow’ factor – the dramatic 15m-high climbing wall with its 144 climbing routes. Users will walk in and take in the breadth of the space, before coming across access barriers. This is a nice touch to make the, sometimes intimidated, user feel at ease.
Opportunities for sport are endless and, to make the most of this, the space has been really well thought out. There is retractable bleacher seating for over 1,000 people that enables a seamless operation between general use and elite use, as does the swimming pool which has flooring technology that allows part of the pool to be converted, at the touch of a button, from general use to competition setting. Not only that but the swimming pool floor can rise and fall to enable multiple uses or provide access to more spectator seating.
The sports hall is hugely multifunctional allowing a massive array of sports to be offered, both traditional and non-traditional. The high ceilings give the user a sense of breathable space while the clever use of digital technology in the rowing room gives the sense and experience of rowing outside.
The gym is the biggest in the higher education sector with hundreds of machines. All areas are fully accessible for those with disabilities and designed in an inclusive way and, on top of all that, the facility has natural ventilation, which means it uses less energy, and has stunning woodland views in all directions!
A team approach
Massive congratulations to everyone who has been involved in creating this fantastic facility. From the customer, with their clear and powerful vision of an active campus and a facility that enables people to be active in a way that works for them, to the designer, architects and our supply chain partners. Once open, local communities, students, staff and elite athletes will come together and share these spaces, getting active side-by-side and providing immense inspiration to one another.
It’s projects like these that make me proud to work for Willmott Dixon and in this incredibly exciting sector. Warwick has raised the bar for university’s providing leisure, fitness and well-being facilities.
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