Joe O’ Connell is the senior project manager at St Sidwells' Point leisure centre in Exeter, a unique leisure centre which is set to be one of the most energy efficient leisure centres in the world. Here, Joe shares his excitement about delivering this unique project and reveals how the general public can have a preview of the project and how the construction is progressing during Open Doors Week.

“St Sidwell's Point is set to be a beacon of building excellence – not just in Exeter – but internationally. It forms a pivotal part of Exeter City Council’s city centre regeneration masterplan and Exeter Live’s better mantra to get people living and working in the City. This new leisure centre will provide, a healthy, climate ready, energy efficient, world-class leisure centre, for Exeter and the wider community.   

Exeter is a vibrant city, historically interesting and home to approximately 130,000 residents. Currently the city is undergoing a transformation and St Sidwell’s Point is centre stage of the redevelopment in a prime location on one of the principal routes into Exeter.

The new £36m leisure centre, which was procured through the Southern Construction Framework, will provide a wealth of sports facilities, including a 25-metre 8 lane competition swimming pool, 20-metre community pool, a children’s confidence pool, a health and fitness centre, as well as a café, soft play area, spa with a hydrotherapy pool which includes a heat experience and treatment rooms. Along with, a rooftop terrace will allow visitors relax after their treatments, with views over the cathedral and the whole of the city.

Set to be the first leisure centre not only in the UK built to Passivhaus standard but the world, it is being built to cater for users of this generation but generations to come as it is being deigned to be a climate resilient building.

There are three key areas that sets this building apart for the visitors;

1. Healthy building environment- not only will the pools have excellent air and water quality with the swimming pools featuring a micro filtration system. The micro filtration system cleans the pool water to the highest level of water quality currently possible in a swimming pool which means minimal use of chemical. The materials that have been selected to construct the building are also vital to the buildings environment they have been selected as they are non toxic and also these natural materials are vapour permeable

2. Climate ready -it has been designed and constructed to perform in the changing weather conditions expected over the coming decades, able to withstand the changing weather dynamics predicted for the future.                                     
3. Low running costs - the leisure centres external fabric has been selected to ensure that the smallest possible amount of energy is required to operate the building. This intern brings an economical benefit too, meaning St Sidwell’s Point will be cheaper than others to run in the long-term. The leisure centre will use 70% less energy than a conventional pool.

Everything about St Sidwell’s Point has been designed with the focus of minimising energy usage and creating a heathy environment. Following the Building Biology philosophy, an ideal that looks to create an environment that is as close to an undisturbed natural environment as possible, with for example, improving the indoor living environment by focusing on reducing a variety of irritants that can be found in other buildings

Working with the Exeter City council, we are very proud to know all these changes will make a difference to the world we live in.

We started on site in January last year and we are progressing well with the project, even with the horrendous weather we have all experienced recently. The centre will open early 2021.

Open Doors Week gives people a fantastic opportunity to see first-hand, the progress of the build. We understand how important this new development is to Exeter and visitors will be able to book on to a tour, listen to a presentation and view the site from inside the site boundary, we will also be on hand to answer questions.

I would say to anyone who is interested in creating energy efficient healthy buildings, or those who want to understand the benefits this project brings to Exeter or are interested in a career within the built environment, book on to a visit slot and see first-hand this exciting project.

I am proud to be leading the St Sidwell's Point team Kier team in the knowledge us that, it will enrich the lives of residents across Exeter and leave a lasting legacy in the area for decades to come. For me personally living locally I am looking forward to using the facility and seeing so many people enjoying the leisure centre.”

To book your tour now, click here.



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