Prior Park College, Bath

We went beyond standard industry practice to devise a bespoke, simpler and more cost-effective operational system for a new school sports facility.

Prior Park College, Bath

Prior Park College, a prestigious private school in Bath, needed a new sports facility containing a large sports hall and fitness centre, an adjoining two-storey changing room, and a classroom block.

Located over a historic quarry, the foundation design had to accommodate challenging ground conditions. Following assessments undertaken by our Geotechnical team, we used vibro-pile ground improvements, displacing and densifying the ground materials and enabling strip and pad foundations to be laid. This approach, rather than the alternative suspended foundation slab, provided a much more economical solution for the client.

Taking the original superstructure tender scheme designed by a third party, we were able to value engineer the design to significantly reduce the steel tonnage used, minimising cost to both the end client and contractor.

The superstructure is a braced steel frame and load-bearing masonry hybrid. The two-storey changing room and the classroom block are primarily of masonry construction, whilst the sports hall is a steel frame, including two architectural wrap-around features housing roof lights and facilitating the natural ventilation design.

It was imperative that the new facilities could accommodate a peak occupancy of four rugby teams. Accordingly, the mechanical services infrastructure needed to be shaped around the provision of hot water for showering.

In ascertaining the heat source and storage needed for the showers, we looked beyond standard industry benchmarks for hot water demands, which in this context would have resulted in unnecessary cost from associated plant and controls and loss of space from unnecessarily large boiler plant.

It was also clear that a standard solution would have provided the client with very poor value in terms of energy and running costs given the huge standing losses that would be generated from a system which would be operating 24/7 but would never be used to its full capacity.

Working closely with the design and build contractor and the client, we established a more accurate profile of occupancy of the facility and the hot water demands. This allowed us to conduct a calculation of the hot water requirements using ‘first principles’ and to consider system recovery rates.

This approach allowed us to come up with a simpler, bespoke and much cheaper operational system, in terms of both capital cost and operational cost, which has saved the client a lot of money.    

The £5m state-of-the-art sports centre opened in April 2015. Designed sensitively to be both of its time and in keeping with its historic surroundings, it offers superb facilities, including four badminton courts, a dedicated fitness suite, an additional classroom, and a viewing balcony over the college's Astroturf pitch and cricket grounds.