January 17, 2018

Sapphire Ice & Leisure

Romford Leisure Centre, now named Sapphire Ice & Leisure to honour the Sapphire anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, is opening to the public on the 3rd of February 2018. The centre includes an eight-lane pool for competitions, gymnasium, and first floor 56m by 26m ice rink, and will be the new home for the ice hockey team, the London Raiders.

The project has been a rewarding and challenging experience that we first got involved in back in 2013. AKSWard Ltd was employed as part of a multi-disciplinary team to design the new multi-use leisure centre for the London Borough of Havering. We provided structural and civil engineering design services and worked closely with other members of the design team.

The building is five storeys high which includes a suspended 56x26m ice rink above the main 25m pool on ground floor. Other leisure amenities such as saunas, gymnasiums, and fitness rooms are provided on the upper floors. From an external viewpoint, the combination of the building’s rectangular shape and its lightweight facade were used to mimic the appearance of an ice cube. The project featured in New steel Construction magazine in February 2017 also featuring our steel design model, which can be read about  here.

Suspended Ice Rink
A robust and stable structure was required to accommodate the ice rink, and it being above the swimming pool on the ground floor, this had to be achieved without the use of internal columns. 1.5m deep steel plate girders spanning 25m were used to support the ice rink and ensure the ice does not crack due to vibration. There were very detailed workshops between the designers/specialists to agree issues such as the allowable deflections of the ice rink floor and also temperature/vapour control between the ice rink and swimming pool below. The swimming pool area is heated to 30 ºC and has a relative humidity of 80{4bb93e7181a8326da95feafd5b7f4434f1e1457523e65a5e8c106e709f21ec4a}. The ice rink above needs to maintain a temperature of -5 ºC. Extensive steelwork protection was provided to help future-proof the structure for years to come.

Complex Substructure Design
The building required a complex foundations design due to the requirements of the unique structure as well as ground conditions; the site was contaminated with hydrocarbons and asbestos, and the presence of existing piles in the soil belonging to the demolished building that occupied the site previously caused additional complications. We opted for a mixture of suspended and ground bearing substructure foundations design. Complex movement joints were positioned at the interfaces between the two elements, to account for differential ground movement.  In order to improve the existing ground conditions,   a geo-grid system and use of imported engineered fill was used. Some 300 No 450mm CFA piles that ranged in depth from 18 to 24 m were installed.

The Feature Staircase
A visually striking lightweight steel staircase is used to connect the floors within the ceiling void atrium spanning four floors. The staircase was required to span more than 10m per floor.

You can read more about this exciting project on Havering Borough Council’s website  here.
Visit the contractor’s website to read their article here.
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Wilmott Dixon (main contractor) | Saunders Boston (architect) | Kershaw (M&E Specialists)
imagery   © London Borough of Havering