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Atlantic College


Lawray were approached by John Weaver Construction, to support them in developing an initial concept design for a new Sports Hall and associated facilities at UWC Atlantic College. The College is located in the 12th Century St Donta’s Castle, in the Vale of Glamorgan.

UWC Atlantic is the founding college of a global education movement and international residential school. Each year, 350 students aged 16-19 from over 90 different countries benefit from a world-class International Baccalaureate (IB) educational experience, it offers one of the most comprehensive scholarship programme at pre-university level.

The Brief

In 2013, the client commissioned a Masterplan with the main objective to provide a framework for strategic decision making for projects on campus for a 5-10-year period.  The plan was also intended to provide a basis and understanding of the impact of proposed change on landscape and buildings of high architectural and historic importance in line with a conservation plan. 

Part of the masterplan included for the provision of the new Sports Hall with key considerations to include: siting a building with a large footprint and volume not to avoid a harmful effect on the setting of the existing buildings and estate of high architectural and historic significance; proximity to existing sports facilities used by students and external users; and ease of access from the other related facilities.

The solution would need to cater for 250 students and provide 4 badminton courts, 1 basketball court, 1 five a-side football pitch, a dance studio, a gymnasium, changing facilities and a commercial kitchen and cafeteria facility.  The Sports Hall would accord with the Sport England guidelines for sporting facilities and the building was to achieve a BREEAM rating of very good.

Our Solution

The preferred location identified in the 2013 Masterplan was on the site of a former maintenance yard.  An already developed area meant no significant impact on ecology and habitat.  The site protects views from the foreshore by means of existing woodlands with a significant level difference of over 4m between the yard and the upper existing tennis courts.  Part of the brief was to provide connectivity between the tennis courts and the new building so that the hall building could sit between the levels and take advantage of Bristol Chanel views from the upper terrace levels.

Due to budget constraints and modifications to the originally consented planning application, Lawray led a Non-Material Amendment process with the Vale of Glamorgan Planning Department and supported the discharge of some 25 planning conditions and the scheme was constructed under the watchful eye of an Archaeologist, Ecologist, Arboriculturally, Acoustician and BREEAM assessor.

The building was founded onto the rock of an existing cliff face and because of the restricted land area there was a need to form a 5m deep cut into the existing cliff face to gain the much-needed ground floor capacity.  In order to reduce differential settlement, the building followed the line of the cliff face to form the founding levels of deep trench fill concrete foundations.  All excavated rock was crushed on site and recycled and reused within the construction of the building.

The structural solution was in the form of a steel frame with blockwork cavity walls, blue pennant stone and Eternit rain screen cladding and the flat roof with a sedum blanket visible from the upper site levels.   Other building features carefully detailed included a cantilevered glazed viewing gallery for spectators and a fully glazed terrace area for outdoor dining and learning.  There was particular close attention payed towards acoustic treatment including ceiling and wall panels balancing ambience and functionality.

Lawray has been a partner of the Corporation of the Church House for over 20 years and in that time has been heavily involved in several large refurbishment projects. The team’s knowledge and skills have proved invaluable in the areas of design, planning and project administration. When redeveloping a listed property, Lawray have ensured that they treat the architecture with sympathy whilst producing space that is effective for modern day requirements. Lawray continues to work closely with our in-house team on forthcoming projects and we would have no hesitation in recommending their work to others.

Mr Ian Bessant, Facilities Manager

The Corporation of Church House (Aug 2013)