City of London Freemen’s School Swimming Pool\

Swimming amongst the trees

The scheme provides a 25m, six lane competition pool with associated changing facilities and a flexible teaching / event space.

The challenge

The building needed to be sensitively located and designed to minimise its impact on the school’s Grade II* listed landscape. It was also important to conceal the building from the school’s Grade II* listed Main House.

The big idea

The proposal nestles into the landscape by partially submerging the lower ground floor. A dark copper colour standing seam cladding was chosen and this is articulated with vertical ribs which help to meld the building and landscape. Standing seam cladding is utilised because it is a more traditional form of construction which responds to key features of the listed Main House. The deep columns of the all-timber construction and wrap-around glazing, which afford direct views from the water into the woodland, give the sense of swimming amongst the trees.

The most important internal space is the pool hall. The roof and walls of this space are constructed almost entirely from exposed, white stained timber. The interior strategy works with this natural material and chooses a complimentary palette of colours and textures. Internal views from the reception and event space in to the pool hall are framed by deep window seats. In addition these three key spaces all have panoramic views towards the surrounding woodland.

The internally expressive structure consists of a timber glulam portal frame braced with CLT providing a self-finished natural timber interior.

The wider project

This project is the second phase of work completed by Hawkins\Brown for the School. The first phase, which was completed in 2014, delivered a new music school and a boarding house for 60 pupils. Future phases include the refurbishment of the Grade II* Listed Main House and landscape improvements.

“The School is overwhelmed by the beauty and quality of the new swimming pool – it is a fantastic new asset for our School and local community.”

Roland Martin Headmaster, City of London Freemen’s School

Project Summary

Project Team

Structural Engineer: Eckersley O’Callaghan
Services: Skelly and Couch
Landscape Designer: BD Landscape
Transport Engineer: Motion
Ecology Advisor: Aspect
Arboriculturalist: Treeline
BREEAM Assessor: SRL
Project Management: Pick Everard
Contractor: Gilbert Ash
Planning Consultants: Lichfields
Acoustic Consultants: Max Fordham


  • RIBA South East Awards 2018 - Client of the Year - Winner
  • RIBA Awards 2018 - National Award - Winner
  • The Wood Awards 2018 - Commercial and Leisure, Structural Award, Education and Public Sector - Highly commended
  • Structural Timber Awards 2018 - Education Project of the Year - Winner
  • RIBA South East Awards 2018 - Regional Award - Winner
  • RIBA South East Awards 2018 - Sustainability - Winner
  • Construction News Awards 2018 - Project of the Year (Under £15m) - Highly commended
  • BD Architect of the Year Awards 2018 - Public Building Architect of the Year - Shortlisted

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