Projects   Building Types Study - Places of Leisure
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The Venue
Hertfordshire, UK

A classy athletic center redefines institutional design

© Ian Lawson

For more photos click on 'photos & drawings' above.

To see the people and products behind this project click on 'people & products.'

The Venue, located in North London, was conceived as the area's flagship leisure center to replace an existing 1960s swimming pool and village hall. A number of high profile facilities and corporate headquarters are located nearby, but the urban landscape has been eroded or does not exist. This new facility seeks to bring life to the street, addressing it in a dynamic way. This is manifested in the V precast concrete "Churchillian" columns, which present a strong visual image on the exterior.

The building houses an 8-lane competition swimming pool with 300 spectator seats in a double-height, naturally-lit space supported by a teaching pool and changing facilities. At first-floor level, there is a glazed fitness center overlooking the street and the main pool hall. A dance studio, health suite, beauty treatment rooms, and function spaces complete the facilities.

The client wanted a building that did not reflect the harshness and sterility typical of public athletic centers in England. This led to the use of natural materials to soften the ambience while providing hard-wearing and robust surfaces. Terracotta panels, limestone floors, and dark oak finishes to the upper level combine with tiled pool areas, high-tech frameless glazed walls, and discreet theatrical lighting to create a visually exciting facility. The local authorities are justifiably proud of this redefinition of a public facility, designed with a style and quality to compete with the best of commercial facilities built today.

Formal name of building:
The Venue

Hertfordshire, UK

Gross square footage:
71,124 sq ft

Total construction cost:
$21.4 million

Hertsmere Borough Council

Architect's firm:
Dobson House, Northumbrian Way
Killingworth, Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 6QW
United Kingdom



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