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A sporting chance in the Valleys

6 April 2018 | By James Kenny

The new pitch is covered by a semitranslucent membrane offering diffused natural light

Constructing a £15m extension to a Welsh university sports complex had to overcome cost pressures and the unexpected discovering of mine workings beneath the site. James Kenny reports.

One of the biggest providers of higher education sports courses in the UK, the University of South Wales (USW), is currently investing £15m in new hi-tech facilities for its students.

The Sport Park II near Treforest, Pontypridd will include a state-of-the-art indoor sports facility with full-size 3G pitch for both football and rugby, specialist centre for strength and conditioning, changing rooms, teaching rooms, and offices. In total, the extension adds almost 900 sq m of extra space.

The scheme was procured through the Scape Group National Framework, with Kier appointed as main contractor, the design being handled by Atkins and Pick Everard acting as project managers and quantity surveyors.

The project has had to overcome unexpected ground conditions during its early stages and cost pressures, as Mike Petersen, director at Pick Everard’s Cardiff office, explains.

Significant additional groundworks were needed

“With the project being for a university, we were under a tight deadline for time and a strict budget, but one of the unforeseen things we encountered, which maybe should have been expected being in Wales, was the discovery of mine workings on the site,” he says.  

Work began in March 2016. The discovery of the historic mine workings required significant additional groundworks to prepare the site for the main construction works.

Petersen says: “To reduce the delay caused by the discovery of mine workings, we developed a separate enabling works package, to secure and level the site and distribute arising earthworks, while designs for the new building were being developed.”

The project also faced financial pressure to achieve the quality required by the university, leading to a revised solution by Pick Everard.

“Working with the university, we identified a major cost saving of £900,000 from the omission of an additional changing room,” Petersen says. “We also saved £200,000 from specification changes including replacement of areas of curtain walling with cladding, and the selection of an alternative cladding material with similar aesthetic qualities and performance.”

The facility adds 900 sq m of space

The new pitch is covered by a semi translucent toughened PVC membrane, tensioned over a steel structure. The fabric diffuses natural light, limiting the need for the artificial lighting. 

The new facility has strong environmental credentials, using sustainable urban drainage systems as well as low-energy heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting.

The park will help USW maintain its position as the largest provider of football coaching degrees in Europe. It partners with 30 Premier League and English Football League clubs.

The project completed in early 2018.

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