IB Leisure was commissioned by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council to enhance and develop the range and scope of services on offer to its population. The project is one of a series of proposed investments designed to support growth in the south of the borough. The range of leisure and community activities at IB Leisure reflects the desire to bring swimming, fitness and an enhanced library, previously not available to the area’s residents, all under the one roof putting leisure and wellbeing at heart of community.
The facilities feature, a 25-metre swimming pool, learner pool with movable floor, 80 station column-free gym, fitness suite, spinning studio, community public library, soft play room, multi-activity room to support associated community use and customer service kiosk previously not available to the area’s residents, all under the one roof.
The challenge was to develop a design that does not dominate the surrounding scale or character of the area yet is highly visible as a major public building within the locality and community hub setting. The design is a response made with the needs of the local community in mind and is sensitive to its location. It delivers a civic presence and human scale through careful composition and detailing of the façades. A striking appearance has been achieved through imaginative articulations of the elevational treatment that enhances the attractiveness of the design.
Key social spaces are located at the front of the building to establish a vibrant ‘shop window’. Access to spaces in the building revolve around a central foyer/atrium space, keeping the circulation to a minimum – facilitating users finding their way around the building. There are direct internal views from the central foyer through to key activity areas on the ground and first floors, encouraging people to stay and watch family and friends as well as considering other sports and leisure pursuits they may wish take part in.
The aspiration of the design was to incorporate finishes of high quality that will give the feel of a private club, without incurring significant additional cost. There is an emphasis on connectivity to promote an inclusive experience for users of all abilities.
The learner pool is more than double the area of a standard standalone learner pool, it includes a movable floor providing the flexibility for the leisure operator, Tees Active, to host several different classes including sub-aqua, aquacise, aqua aerobics and is large enough to accommodate more than one learn-to-swim class at once.