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Construction completes on King’s Cross Sports Hall

Designed by Bennetts Associates alongside engineering company Arup, the building meets a near-zero carbon target, with several innovative design features.

25/08/2020 2 min read
Photos: John Sturrock

Construction of the brand-new King’s Cross Sports Hall, a community sports centre and gym, located at the north east edge of the 67-acre King’s Cross development, has now completed.

The sports hall has been built to Sport England standards and can be used as four badminton courts, a basketball court, a volleyball court or a five-a-side football pitch. The building will be operated by Camden Council with the gym being managed by Better Gyms.

The building’s position, just three metres above the underground tunnels of the Thameslink railway line, created a unique design challenge – meaning the building needed to be designed using lightweight materials and with shallow foundations. The Sports Hall, built by BAM, is primarily constructed using a cross laminated timber (CLT) frame and glulam timber columns, a natural alternative to steel and concrete that is both lightweight and carbon friendly. It is clad in zinc and has a super-lightweight concrete substructure that runs perpendicular to the tunnels to prevent concentrated loads. The serrated roof and façades of the building are a nod to its railway context and heritage.

Designed to meet a near-zero carbon target, several innovative features were incorporated into the design, including various methods of ventilation and the use of glazing to provide daylight while reducing heat gains. The building also benefits from its connection to the King’s Cross Central District Heating and Cooling Network, an efficient system for heating all the buildings at King’s Cross that means that conventional boilers are not required.

The building’s sustainability credentials are further bolstered by the fact it was designed to have multiple lives. When it opens, the gym and fitness suite on the upper floor will be open to the public, however for a time the sports hall will be the home of the Construction Skills Centre. This is a temporary fixture until the skills centre moves to their new home in Euston, at which point the sports hall will open to the public.

‘As our first completed all-timber and ‘near-zero carbon’ building, this project is hugely significant for us, with expertise already being applied to other commissions,’ said Julian Lipscombe, Director at Bennetts Associates. ‘Particular delights are rationalising extreme substructure challenges into a deceptively simple superstructure that echoes the site’s railway heritage and the warmth of the timber interior acting as a beacon for the community.  Extending the collaboration established with Argent and LB Camden on 5 Pancras Square has been very rewarding.’

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