St. Sidwell's Point

Regenerating Exeter city centre with a state-of-the-art Passivhaus, Building Biology leisure centre and swimming pool

The design and build of a new state-of-the-art indoor municipal pool facility in Exeter, including a main national standard swimming pool and learners' pool with supporting and dry sports facilities, including:


  • Main and learner pools with moveable floors
  • Confidence water pool
  • 100 spectator seats
  • 50 seat cafe
  • 150 station fitness gym
  • Studios
  • Health suite including spa
  • Changing facilities
  • Soft play area


Key design standards to be implemented:


  • The first Passivhaus leisure centre in the UK
  • Building Biology IBN best practice guidance in healthy design
  • Best practice guidance developed under the Technology Strategy Board's (TSB) "Design 4 Future Climate" programme


Key benefits by implementing these strategies will be:


  • 70% saving on energy costs when compared to a current good practice pool
  • 50% reduction in water use
  • Oustanding internal water and air quality
  • Excellent daylight levels
  • Healthy, uncompromised, uplifting, comfortable indoor climate
  • Lower maintenance costs due to high quality building fabric
  • Resilience against predicted future climate change


Architectural concept:


The general massing of the leisure centre is divided into two programatic entities: wet and dry.  These two zones are 'cupped' together in a form, naturally generated by the curves of Paris Street and Cheeke Street, which wrap around the site.  The retail pedestrian street at the north of the building is purposely continued in the direction of flow into and through the building, past the reception to the cafe with views of the pool halls, as a destination point.  This sense of connectivity extends beyond the site towards Princesshay, to create more permeability through the area and it generally improves pedestrian-friendly linkages between the site and its surroundings.


Gale & Snowden Architects has been involved since the inception of the project and are providing design and consultancy services for RIBA Stages 0 to 6.  At the outset the practice helped to obtain funding from the Technology Strategy Board to assess the impact of future climate on a leisure centre in various locations in the city of Exeter. Gale & Snowden was then appointed as part of the international, mulitdisciplinary Design Team to lead the project regarding low energy Passivhaus design incorporating healthy design principles (Building Biology), computer modelling and designing for climate change adaptation and as architects for the envelope of the building.