A new community leisure centre for the East London suburb of Rainham has passed its final planning hurdle and is ready to start on site.
It’s the final stage in a long process of collaboration and consultation with local people, council officers, cabinet members and the Box Architects design team. But the result has been the worth the effort says Box CEO Graham Place.
He said: “The process has been highly scrutinised, not least because the chosen site was on an existing recreation ground and could have resulted in the loss of external amenity space. But our design has created a community facility that’s part of the park, and has ‘uplifted’ the outside space beyond the boundary of the building.
“There were concerns that the leisure centre would take away 15% of the park, but our solution actually improved 85% of the park.”
With no fixed boundaries to the site, local people will be able to step outside the centre and be in the park, where running tracks and walking paths will be created, as well as a ‘kick table tennis’ court… and even a small fruit orchard.
The design of the building itself takes account of local factors – the area is semi-residential and near a conversation area. Single storey with a regular pitched roof, the centre will use local red brick and burnt timber cladding. It’s also being built 1.2m above existing ground level to match an adjacent road; a design feature that will reduce excavation and allow the swimming pool to use an efficient modular, above-deck construction method.
As well as the six-lane swimming pool, the centre will include a 72-station fitness suite, dance studio, community rooms and changing facilities.
“It’s very much a community building – in the community, for the community – and will enhance an existing recreation facility,” added Graham. “When complete, and despite a reduction in recreational space, the site will score more highly on the London Plan’s Urban Greening Factor than before.”
“Our design has created a community facility that’s part of the park, and has ‘uplifted’ the outside space beyond the boundary of the building.”
Graham Place, CEO, Box Architects