Proposals for King Alfred Leisure Centre, Brighton & Hove
Following the announcement on 21 January of Brighton & Hove Council’s decision to proceed with Crest Nicholson on the King Alfred, we are pleased to publish some illustrations of the “alternative” scheme on our web site. LCE architects undertook the design, as lead architects working with Aecom, who were also the engineers and landscape architects.
Our client for the bid was Bouygues Development who have a highly successful track record in delivering large multi-mixed use developments in the UK and overseas. Had the bid been successful, Bouygues would have developed the housing with the renowned housing developer Londonewcastle. Bouygues UK Construction would have built out the development, including the Sports and Leisure Centre.
Bioregional also worked with us on an exclusive basis in advising the team on meeting the 10 principles of One Planet Living.
The design of the Leisure Centre responds strongly to the visual prominence and exposure of the site. The pool hall was designed to be highly visible externally from a distance, particularly from the west and south.
LCE and Aecom saw the design challenge in the following terms:
- The importance of the silhouette, especially the medium to long distance views along the seafront.
- To be seen as a piece of sculpture when seen from the Downs.
- To generally sit well within its immediate context (see inset)
- To take full advantage of the Leisure Centre brief to create a Civic Building, giving it the best position on the site and ensuring it makes a statement for the City.
- To help promote the status of the City, not only architecturally but as a major contribution to its unique position in relation to the Bio-sphere and One Planet Living.
This early sketch indicates the importance of the silhouette and how it relates to the sea in picking up both the themes and the colours of the sea
In our master plan, the Sports & Leisure Centre was strategically placed at the western end of the site as a statement of intent. It is designed as a civic building in a civic location, acting as a gateway building from the west which is visually engaging, connects the inside functions to the external environment, both to the sea and to the western lawns, and puts the social and community benefit “in the shop window”.
Whilst the front door is on the Kingsway, keeping the principal entrance on the sheltered landward side, there is an important secondary entrance on the Esplanade from which generally cyclists and pedestrians will approach. This central top lit triple height internal street combines the two entrances, divides the clearly defined wet and dry zones and creates an efficient and easily navigated layout. It also allowed us to create a simple division between paid and free activity without the barrier creating an exclusive feeling allowing the building entrance and circulation to feel light and generous, evoking a calm and comfortable atmosphere.
The leisure pool will enjoy uninterrupted views out to sea to the south and west (it is raised nearly a storey height above the esplanade preventing direct views in from outside) making a very direct visual connection between the new leisure facility and the strong sea swimming tradition in Brighton and Hove.
Both the Lane swimming Pool and teaching pool also have views of the Western Lawns and the Sea, creating a varied and attractive external viewing environment to enrich the experience of activities being undertaken within the building. The pools are visually connected and acoustically separated by glass partitions.
The Gym is positioned at first floor level and looks into the competition pool. It also has views of the sea and by being situated in the north-west corner acts as a beacon, both during the day and at night for those travelling east on the A259. Equally it affords views out for its users so that there is life and light visible throughout the year even after dark.
Choosing the western edge of the site for the Sports & Leisure Centre elevates the buildings to ‘civic’ status, creating a recognisably distinct ‘sense of place’, which in conjunction with the adjacent residential blocks, create a strong sense of local identity. The expressive, angular and intersecting planes of the building contrasts with the geometry of the landscape – the flat planes of the western lawns and the sea.
The design of the Sports & Leisure Centre and its interaction with the enabling works is borne out of its unique location on Hove seafront where it can be seen in silhouette along the coast.
The oblique views from the beach and the seafront are more important than the view from out to sea. The enabling development is made up of four “piers” of accommodation of varying height and profile creating 3 garden courts. Between these “piers” are low level buildings on the south side, high enough to offer protection from the wind at ground level but low enough to allow winter sun into the courts. These garden courts are compressed versions of the Regency squares, wide enough for privacy to the neighbouring properties and to afford views, but small enough to create a protected micro-climate.
This illustration demonstrates the vitality the development would bring to the esplanade. It also shows the permeability through the site, where either side of the lower buildings are routes to and from the garden courts which take you through to the Kingsway. The shaped roof to the Sports & Leisure Centre can be seen from the far end of the development.
We thank BHCC and Bouygues Developments for the opportunity to prepare designs for this important site in the City
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