Blog: Building Project of the Year +£10m SECBE Awards 2020 finalist - Bulmershe Leisure Centre

21 April 2020

sponsored by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

Building Project of the Year +£10m SECBE Awards 2020 finalist - Bulmershe Leisure Centre (submitted by Faithful+Gould)

The demolition and construction of the new Bulmershe Leisure Centre by Faithful + Gould and their project partners has been a great example of how a high performing and collaborative team can work together to deliver a project under budget and completed a month early.

On face value, the brief to design, tender and construct a £14.5m leisure centre within 26 months may not seem overly challenging, but it required the key parties to adopt a number of high performing attitudes:

  1. A professional team who could sign up to a 6 month period in which to take the design from RIBA Stage 1 through to production of a RIBA Stage 3+ tender package.
  2. A client with excellent Governance procedures, to ensure that there were no delays in decision-making during the programme.
  3. A contractor with a different way of looking at the project, who could bring ideas and expertise to the table and generate a team environment that encompassed the client and professional team. 

In more detail:

During the demolition phase, previously capped contamination was identified underneath the old leisure centre. Safe removal and disposal of this added significant costs and additional time to the demolition period, thereby risking a delayed commencement of construction works.

Construction logistics proved challenging on site, with the close proximity of three schools, including an SEN school with a high proportion of car/taxi/mini bus movements. Close liaison with the schools was required at all times to accommodate deliveries, completion of external works and upgrade of utilities.  

Despite the challenging budget, the project incorporates renewable technologies with photovoltaic panels on the roof and air source heat pumps providing domestic hot water. Both technologies feed directly into the leisure centre, thereby reducing the reliance on the national grid for power. 

The resulting building is a piece of architecture that complements the adjacent schools, yet is more prominent and more customer-focused than its predecessor. The local residents are welcoming of a new leisure centre that will offer access to modern facilities for all, and will no longer be primarily providing space for school use during the day time. A café space overlooking the teaching pool will allow parents to relax during swim lessons, and the addition of a spin studio to complement the two fitness studios and large fitness suite is a welcome addition for the community.

Community engagement with the three adjacent schools was considered throughout the contract and commenced at the earliest stage on site with a site visit during the demolition period where the pupils of Highwood Primary School showed off their project artwork and got to witness the demolition machines at work. 

During the construction period, several site visits were facilitated for Bulmershe School and Addington SEN School, including one as part of the topping out celebration where dignitaries from the Council were also invited along. 


  • Completion ahead of contract programme
  • Final account agreed a month prior to practical completion
  • Excellent collaborative working relationships between client, consultant team, contractor and external stakeholders

About the Building Project of the Year Award - sponsored by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

The SECBE Awards team look for outstanding local projects that: demonstrate great team working between the client and entire supply chain; were delivered before the programmed completion date, below the approved cost plan and to quality exceeding expectation whilst delivering the highest of health and safety standards; achieved the lowest environmental impacts; delivered outstanding customer satisfaction and may have also received praise from other stakeholders, and demonstrates the highest levels of the application of best practice, innovation and technical achievement to overcome the project’s challenges.

> Find out more about the other finalists here

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