Located in the expanding western part of the city, the new University of Cambridge Sports Centre is the handiwork of Arup Associates. Now open for students, academic staff, and the public, the building sits at the edge of the town's green belt and efficiently responds both to its rural environment and to an extremely versatile program. It is the first part of a three-phase scheme within the West Cambridge Masterplan.
To achieve an open-plan space that would be flexible enough to adapt to different sporting activities, the centre's dome-like roof spans over 36 metres and opens up to let natural light and ventilation in. Made of glulam beams, it is one of the building's most important features, as it is a result of the close collaboration between Arup Associate's architects and engineers. Photovoltaic cells, solar hot-water collectors, and external electro-mechanical actuators that control the façade louvers' opening and closing, contribute to the building's energy efficient strategy. Another feature that sets the building apart from typical sports venues is a colonnade of timber fins, which clads the entrance façade (north), making for a striking approach to the building.
Inside, the Sports Centre's rooms are brightly lit, well ventilated, and acoustically sound. Featured in our July issue's Game On fashion story, the complex accommodates an eight-court sports hall with tiered seating for 400 people, facilities for weight training, squash, rugby, Eton fives, and badminton, as well as multi-purpose spaces.
The newest addition to the University of Cambridge sporting facilities is already seen as a great success. It is 'a major contribution to the sport and exercise opportunities available to the students at the University', says Director of Physical Education at the University Tony Lemons. A well-balanced collaboration between the ARUP Associate's different disciplines, this building fulfils its purpose, while being energy-efficient and kind to its environment.