SPORT and leisure specialist GT3 Architects has completed the first phase of a striking new destination leisure centre in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, which combines the needs of local residents and nationwide visitors to create a leisure hub for all.
The first phase of the £22m flagship scheme features leisure slides and splash pads alongside more traditional swimming provisions and fitness equipment to supply a dual-purpose scheme for both fun and fitness.
The facility features flexible community spaces and a 100-station gym to support the health and wellbeing of local residents, with memberships as cheap as 85p per day alongside pay-as-you-go options. As well as meeting the existing needs of the local community, the scheme includes facilities designed to incentivise footfall and tourism, including a thermal spa experience, saunas, aromatherapy steam room, spa pool, and experience shower with heated benches. The centre also features an indoor, four-rink bowling green and Hive café, offering a range of hot and cold food and drink, as well as a children’s soft play area.
GT3 Architects – which has studios in Newcastle and Nottingham – has acted as lead designer on the leisure centre, covering both the interior and exterior architecture to deliver this complex project.
Paul Reed, associate director at GT3, said: “From the very beginning, this project has had a true community feel, and it was vital that the design was rooted in the local area. We wanted to create something that was visually striking and took strong cues from its surroundings, such as the Royal Border Bridge and the town’s ancient walls.
“We replicated the elevational rhythm of the bridges but broke it down into individual forms to create a dynamic image with mixes of glass and green-wall. The local colour palette evokes rich warm tones in its hues, which led us to create the dynamic stainless steel shingle façade. It shimmers gold and purple depending on the light, linking to the local architecture as well as creating a beacon to local residents and tourists alike.”
The new centre is situated next to the existing leisure centre at Tweedmouth and was completed in phases so facilities could be preserved for residents throughout the build. With the completion of the wet side facilities, work on the second phase has now begun, replacing the existing pool hall on the site with a new four-court sports hall, as well as completing car parking and landscaping.
Paul added: “Berwick is a fairly isolated town so it was important that leisure provisions were always available through a seamless transition from old to new. The health and wellbeing of residents remained a central part of the project, balanced with building an attractive tourism offer to boost the local economy.
“Designing a facility that covers the needs of both local residents and the town’s tourists has provided an interesting challenge, but by working closely with Active Northumberland, we have been able to ensure that the design covers the requirements of the differing user types. This includes a flexible leisure water zone that can expand into the adjacent learner pool during busy periods and an increased café capacity to cover visitors.
“By doing this, we have helped the local authority meet multiple targets on tourist investment and the health and wellbeing of residents.”
GT3 is also designing Berwick’s sister project, Morpeth Leisure and Community Hub, for Active Northumberland, which started on site in 2021. Along with wet and dry leisure facilities, the scheme will feature a large library, flexible community space, and adult learning services.
Mark Warnes, chief executive at Active Northumberland, said: “The atmosphere in the centre is fantastic. It’s a high-quality, welcoming, and modern environment. It’s full of great areas where local people can come together, socialise, have fun and be more active and we are very excited about the future and the importance it will play in the local community.”
The project was funded by Northumberland County Council, with Tolent Construction acting as lead contractor.
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