Braywick Leisure Centre is being sited at the heart of the town’s largest public open space, which covers 40 hectares. It is already the main outdoor sporting hub and the new centre perfectly compliments its location. What sets this design apart from a more conventional leisure centre is its relationship with the parkland setting. From the outset, the intention has been to create a route through the building to feed into the existing network of paths and activities. It is above all a community centre and the new centre offers opportunities for families to indulge their individual interests and enjoy varied experiences in one place together.
Key to the design development was the close integration with the parkland setting. The building was positioned to accommodate three very high landscape value trees. The car parking is interspersed with lines of trees and the perimeter landscaping buffer has been retained to soften the impact of this significant development. The building is also unusual in that both of the main facades are given equal weight, so that there is no front or back.
Great care has been taken in both the form and legibility of the building layout. The wet and the dry facilities are simply disposed either side of the central top lit street. The choice of materials also reflects its surroundings with natural products, such as the timber boarding and trusses.
Also fundamental to the design is the environmental performance, and the simple shape and sweeping form directly derive from this. Leisure centre pools are highly serviced buildings, as they need to create a warm, humid environment throughout the year. The distinctive roof form of the pool is to reduce volume, whilst containing 200 spectator seats for the numerous galas.
This is a special location and the scheme has been developed in consultation with a dedicated and passionate community. Designed as a sequence of spaces within the parkland setting, it will be interesting to see how the community takes possession and grows into the centre. As with all facilities, good design encourages participation, but it is ultimately people who will make it a success.
The people of Maidenhead have a unique opportunity to create something special.