Hawkins\Brown completes engineered timber pool for Freemen’s School

Hawkins\Brown was tasked to replace the school’s original pool building, which a fire destroyed in 2014. The scheme designed provides a 25m, six lane competition pool, with changing facilities and a multi-purpose teaching and events space. The new pool uses state-0f-the-art timber construction and offsite fabrication methods to create a sustainable building. It also relocates it from the west to the east side of the campus, next to the existing sports facilities.

Adam Cossey, Partner at Hawkins\Brown, said:

“Freemen’s School’s new swimming pool is a welcoming retreat that engages with the mature woodland setting through the use of natural materials and colour schemes. The deep columns of the all-timber construction and wrap around glazing, which afford direct views from the water into the woodland, give the sense of swimming amongst the trees.”

The construction of the pool, led by UK construction and fit out contractor Gilbert-Ash, includes glue-laminated timber (glulam) portal frame, braced with cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels. The use of engineered timber provides a fast, efficient, carbon neutral method of construction that provides both structure and internal finish.

The all-timber construction also has a number of advantages in dealing with the challenges of a pool environment – it is resilient, a thermal insulator and corrosion resistant. On site, the erection of the glulam portal frame and cross-laminated timber walls and roof took just over three weeks. This allowed the detailed design and full construction of the building to be delivered in one year.

The natural internal surface of the structural timber roof and walls is left exposed and stained white. This material acts as a complementary feature to the external setting and helps to create a special environment to swim in. 

Within the pool hall the structurally expressive roof geometry is accentuated by a series of shifting glulam frames creating a visually dynamic space.

To minimise its impact on the school’s Grade II listed landscape, the swimming pool’s lower ground floor is partially submerged. This molds the structure into the surrounding scenery and preserves a large number of the existing trees. The highest point of the gently pitched roof identifies the main entrance.

Roland Martin, Headmaster of Freemen’s, commented:

 “The School is overwhelmed by the beauty and quality of the new swimming pool – it is a fantastic new asset for our School and local community.”

The swimming pool marks the second phase of a 4-stage masterplan by the City of London, which Hawkins\Brown is delivering for Freemen’s School in Ashtead, Surrey, with a view to improve the quality of the school’s listed campus setting. The first phase saw the delivery of a new music school and a boarding house for 60 pupils. Future phases include the refurbishment of the Grade II* Listed Main House, a new playground and enhancements to the landscaping of the school grounds.