Moss Side’s ageing leisure centre is currently undergoing an extensive overhaul with contractor ISG set to complete in November this year. Place North West visited the site to see how the centre is being fully refurbished to provide modern facilities for the local area.
The 1970s building, with its familiar and arguably garish yellow cladding, sits near Hulme Asda and attracts a wide range of users. Last year, Manchester City Council took the decision to close the centre to give it a full makeover, including an updated swimming pool, sports halls, and expanded fitness suites.
Contractor ISG was appointed through the North West Construction Hub in February last year, starting a near six-month pre-construction process to look at how to deliver a complex project.
Options considered included delivering the scheme on a phased basis, allowing the centre to be used throughout, but given the additional cost and time needed for this approach, the client and ISG decided to deliver the project all at once. Existing users of the leisure centre have been able to use five different centres nearby throughout the build, including Hough End leisure centre.
The build has been a complicated one with huge amounts of work needed to bring the building up to modern standards, as ISG’s senior site manager Alex Mastroddi explained.
“A lot of the project has been about the mechanical and electrical scope of works,” he said. “On this building, although it’s a refurb and not a full-on knock-down-and-start-again, we have had to renew its entire M&E, so the whole plant room – pretty much the heart of the building – had to be completely ripped out and re-done.
“The services installation package alone is circa £3.5m of the total value of the build – that covers upgrading the fabric of the building: cavity insulation to walls, new cladding panels, re-insulating the flat roofs, and a water-harvesting system.”
Fully upgrading the building’s systems will make it 40% more efficient compared to its current state, making it better for both the operator by reducing running costs and improving user experience through better lighting and ventilation.
Designs for the building by architect GT3 have been informed by extensive consultation with the building’s users, plus a public consultation, which have allowed the project team to adapt the scheme to the end-users’ needs. This has included adapting the building’s facilities to massively improve disabled access while changing and showering areas are undergoing a full refurbishment, along with the installation of a new sauna and steam room.
A major part of the upgrade has been a new-build extension which will almost double the size of the leisure centre’s main fitness suite. With the extension, facilities have been increased from 2,400 sq ft to 4,100 sq ft, said Mastroddi.
“As part of the extension we had to bridge over a car park exit area, but by doing that we’ve been able to introduce an area of curtain walling which gives the fitness suite much more natural light than it had before,” he said. This also gets rid of the building’s undercroft which had been known for attracting anti-social behaviour.
The swimming pool area is also undergoing a major refurbishment with a new pool filtration system added, full re-tiling and a full-scale restoration and upgrade of the décor.
A great deal of the more complex work is actually hidden in the basement plant room, including a number of systems which had to be brought into the space in parts and assembled on-site.
And the yellow cladding to the front will not escape a change, with this part of the building set to be repainted in blue, as the CGIs show.
The centre is set to re-open once ISG completes the build in November this year.
The project team features GT3 architects; structural engineer Scott Hughes Design; JMC Group on M&E; ESL Group as cladding contractor; Under1 Roofing Consultants; H2o Servicing on the pool filtration and tiling; and Bolton Stone on the structure and masonry condition.