Sunderland Aquatic Centre

Redbox Architecture, Sunderland, 2008


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Despite the building's curved form, much of its cladding is flat sheets of aluminium 

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  • Despite the building    
  • Junction between glass entrance box and tube shaped pool hall    
  • Gilmour    
  • The Kalzip roofing system also forms the external wall cladding    
  • Sunderland football stadium is separated from the centre by an access road    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • East elevation    
  • South elevation    
  • West elevation    
  • Aerial view towards the south east. The centre sits next to the Sunderland football stadium    
  • Site plan - the centre is located to the north of Sunderland football stadium    
  • Palette of materials    
  • Rendered view of north elevation with existing football stadium behind    
  • View from the west looking across the River Wear    
  • A glass box acts as an entrance foyer to the pool and Wellness Centre on the right    
  • The tube shaped centre is clad in Kalzip standing seam aluminium    
  • Rendered view    
  • Schuco glass is used for the entrance foyer    
  • 15 pairs of glulam beams, each spanning 50m, support the centre    
  • The glass-box foyer has internal brises soleil from ADS to reduce solar gain    
  • The yellow locker doors in the changing rooms match the colour of the doors to storage areas    
  • Detailed drawing of the centre    

50-metre swimming pool wrapped in a long, flattened, aluminium-clad tube, tucked in against the north side of the Sunderland football stadium

The tube-shaped pool hall is clad in Kalzip standing-seam aluminium. At the west end is a two-storey Schüco glass box, which serves as entrance foyer to the two pools and the attached Wellness Centre, which has Sto-clad walls curving in an amorphous shape. The building is separated from the football stadium by a wide access road.

Inside, the plan is quite simple. A two-level plant room, diving pool and towers precede the main 51.5m x 25m, 10-lane swimming pool, which has seating either side for 500 spectators.

Next is the changing-room block, with a big function room and some offices on the level above, followed by the separate foyer and Wellness Centre blocks at the east end of the main structure. Both pools have adjustable floors and the main pool can be divided by a laterally movable, 1.5m-wide boom, which is also used to ensure that athletes swim precisely 50m lengths.

The superstructure is supported by 15 vast curving glulam beams on each side of the main building, with each pair spanning 50m. The beams are pin-jointed at their bases on canted floor-height concrete buttresses, and connected at the top.


  • Begun: Apr 2006
  • Completed: Mar 2008
  • Floor area: 9,750m2
  • Sector: Sports and leisure
  • Total cost: £21M
  • Procurement: JCT Standard 1998
  • Address: Millenium Way, Sunderland, SR5 1SU, United Kingdom

Professional Team


  • Glazing for entrance box: Schuco
  • Brise soleil: ADS
  • Bulletproof glass: Romag
  • Aluminium standing seam cladding: Kalzip
  • Moveable swimming pool floor: Variopool

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