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Location: East Park Terrace Campus, Southampton

Client: Southampton Solent University

Value: £21m

Status: Completed April 2019

Solent Sports

ArchitecturePLB have been working with Solent University since October 2015, initially appointed through design ideas and interview, to prepare a Development Plan for the whole campus which was run concurrently with a feasibility study for the New Sports Complex.

The scheme needed to sit within the context of the current and evolving Campus Development plan and help to be the catalyst for implementing other aspects of the Development Plan.

In particular as part of the development plan we recommended that the Sports building be located of the main university frontage (rather than an inferior back-of-house site), in recognition of the importance as teaching faculty building, with sports being a key part of the University’s applied, industry facing focus.

The design is a dialogue between the urban (campus) scale and the functional and performance spaces of the sports faculty. The concept and design respond to our reading of the language of the existing campus, we termed ‘Dot-Dash’, in other words, long low buildings with taller accent buildings.

The building is made up of two volumes, designed to be perceived in different ways; the hall volume is more inward looking with glimpses of the activities beyond until it opens up into the main entrance and social area.

The main entrance is announced by a colonnade and the gym block over sailing above. Along with the foyer, the gym tower is seen as the true shop front of the facility with windows opening out to address all outlooks, as appropriate.

The hall and gym volumes are pinned together by a void which runs vertically through the building, bringing additional daylight into the deep floor plates and providing exciting views between key areas. The building’s two elements are clad in contrasting materials, playing with the extremes of the tall and heavy tower, clad in an ephemeral perforated mesh and the large volumes, wrapped with heavying recessed black-brick. The gym ‘tower’ has a striking perforated façade, read at an urban scale from across the park, which wraps the entirety of the tower veiling certain windows and exposing others to reveal the activities within. At night the veiled windows are revealed creating a dynamic change to the façade.