Sports, health and student support centre for girls' school

St Cuthbert's Centennial Centre for Wellbeing with swimming pools, fitness centre, health and student support services, by Architectus and Architecture HDT

Swimming pool at Margaret Beattie Aquatic Centre, part indoor games and sports, leisure, leisure centre, sport venue, swimming pool, gray
Swimming pool at Margaret Beattie Aquatic Centre, part of St Cuthberts Centennial Centre for Wellbeing

It's only natural that a school campus will grow in stages as student numbers rise, new courses are introduced and old facilities replaced. But it can be challenging for design teams looking for a successful integration between the new and existing buildings.

St Cuthbert's College in Auckland addressed the potential problem by commissioning Architectus to develop a master plan that would provide a framework for the future development of the campus. The architecture firm was already familiar with the site, having designed the college's multi-award winning Performing Arts Centre, completed in 2011.

Architectus architect Damian McKeown says the new framework for St Cuthbert's College was also established to guide refurbishment and landscaping works that may be undertaken alongside the new-build projects.

The development of this framework led to the commission for Architectus to design the new St Cuthbert's Centennial Centre for Wellbeing. The centre needed to accommodate the Margaret Beale Aquatic Centre, with its 25-long pool, 15m learners' pool and spectator seating, a fitness centre, sports office, health education facility and the Beattie Centre student support centre.

McKeown says the brief was both challenging and innovative. And in light of the specific technical issues presented by the pool component, the firm invited Architecture HDT to work alongside Architectus.

"The brief went well beyond just constructing a swimming facility," he says. "It considered physical wellbeing and sporting endeavour in a wide context that incorporates the college's social and pastoral care roles. These centre on the wellbeing of the whole student."

The architect says the position of the Centennial Centre activates a previously under-utilised part of the college campus.

"One of the most important objectives was to knit the new building into the existing context of the gymnasium, outdoor courts and playing fields, to create what is essentially a wellbeing precinct. The material selections, including the white brickwork of the support centre, are sympathetic to the nearby college buildings. But we also used contrasting materials to define elements that are clearly specialised in their function, hence the use of Kingspan panels for the pool building.

Sliding doors open out to a deck on architecture, building, door, glass, lobby, metropolitan area, real estate, window, gray, black
Sliding doors open out to a deck on the upper level of the Margaret Beale Aquatic Centre in the St Cuthberts Centennial Centre for Wellbeing.

"Scale was also critical. The Centennial Centre building is organised around three volumes the wellness centre, pool complex and ancillary and spectator spaces. Each of these relates to the scale of the nearby college buildings."

McKeown says the team ensured that the organisational make-up of the building was carried through clearly in the finished work.

"From a design perspective, it's the clear articulation of the building and how it is used that makes it successful. The Beattie Centre for Wellbeing, for example, is a discrete and legible element. We also gave a lot of consideration to how glazing could be employed to achieve this for the pool by allowing views both in and out, and by visually linking the building with its context. The glazing creates enhanced social and visual connections between players, occupants, spectators and staff both within and around the project."

One entire double-height end wall of the pool building is glazed, and there are glass doors and walls along both sides. When viewed from the courts, the upper level appears to float above the transparent base.

On the inside, a glazed wall on the upper level provides views of the pool to students working out in the fitness centre. And there are glazed walls between the main pool and learners' pool.

Laminated timbers also feature 34m-long glulaminated beams support the roof of the complex, while the western elevation features glulaminated fins.

"These function as sunscreens that are needed for the late afternoon sun," says McKeown. "They manage both glare and heat gain, and provide privacy for the centre and neighbouring buildings. They also offer opportunities for students, staff and visitors to occupy the exterior deck space on this level in a number of different ways."

The latest technology was incorporated right throughout the centre, including hydraulic and mechanical services. The main pool features a moveable floor that can be raised to lower the depth of the water to cater to sports such as water polo, one of the college's fastest growing sports. The floor level can even be raised to create a platform resting on top of the water.

Tiered spectactor seating lines one side of the architecture, daylighting, leisure, leisure centre, metropolitan area, sport venue, structure, swimming pool, water, gray
Tiered spectactor seating lines one side of the upper level of the Margaret Beale Aquatic Centre at the St Cuthberts Centennial Centre for Wellbeing. The roof is support by 34m-long glulaminated beams.

The pool was also designed and built in accordance with the requirements of FINA, the international governing body for water sports it can be used for official time and record keeping.

For the reception area, classrooms and student support rooms, design consistency was key.

"Following discussions with the college we established an overarching and consistent framework for the interior design of the centre that could be tuned to suit the different social and physical activities within the building," says McKeown.

"This approach determined that the work and counselling spaces in the Beattie Centre would employ timber and glass, with a bright colour palette for the furniture. We needed to create an environment that would be both welcoming and comfortable, and also provide privacy.

"The aesthetic adopted for the pool area uses similar materials, with timber, glass and bright coloured steel, chosen to reflect the more physical activities in and around the pool."

For St Cuthbert's College, the Centennial Centre is fulfilling its proposed holistic role, encouraging every student to reach her potential, with "a strong mind in a healthy body".

Credit list

Centennial Centre, St Cuthbert’s College, Auckland
Engineering consultant
Quantity surveyor
Main contractor
Dominion Constructors
Metal roofing, insulated panels, membrane roofing
Kiwi Roofing
Precast concrete floors
Architectus – Patrick Clifford, Malcolm Bowes, Michael Thomson, Carsten Auer, Damian McKeown, Andy Ong, Henry Crothers, Antonia Walmsley, Carmen Fu, David Lau, David Wright, Eddy Lau, Hugh Smith, Jeremy Chapman, Jeremy Thomson, John Bradbury, Manuel Morel, Mark Yong, Peter Jeffs, Sarah McGowan; and Architecture HDT – Mark Bates, Roger Simmons, Ron Stutter
Acoustic consultant
Marshall Day
Fire protection
Triangle Fire Protection
Glazing, balustrades and mirrors
External wall cladding
Metal windows and doors, ventilation grilles

Story by: Trendsideas

30 Oct, 2014

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