Top marks for Buckingham Pools in the education pool sector…
All swimming pools are highly technical, complex installations and this is especially so in the high-footfall school, university or leisure centre sector.
Whether you are dreaming of an Olympic-level competition pool, a tailor-made therapy pool for specific groups or a learner pool with depth flexibility, choose your provider wisely. Dominating the recent UK Pool & Spa Awards, Buckingham Pools is the leader in the educational sector.
The company has decades of expertise in design and construction of high specification leisure facilities. Their relentless pursuit of technical innovation, use of high- quality materials and exceptional workmanship, combined with genuine customer focus throughout the process, make Buckingham Pools top of the class. Trusted by architects, contractors and end-users, Buckingham Pools can be relied upon to deliver outstanding projects from design, through installation to hand- over. Budgets for school and university pools often come from multiple funding streams. Those involved may well have varied ideas on what they would like to see when their new pool is commissioned.
Buckingham Pools is always happy to advise what can be achieved with the available funding when the project is in its infancy. Buckingham Pools Managing Director, Paul Walton-Collett advises: “It is always tricky, but no-one gains if you cut corners to make the tender look less expensive. “Our technical staff have the product knowledge and experience to guide clients on a budget through the areas where savings can be made and where they definitely cannot. Quality standards and compliance are always at the top of our agenda. “Even at the lower end of the funding scale, we will build excellent- for-purpose, well-designed, quality compliant facilities. For us this is an absolute baseline.” Large building projects always involve many different parties, with a variety of trades being required to work together.
“Collaboration is essential to a successful outcome,” Paul advises. “Good communications are key. “Other parties need to know our timetable and roadmap – and we need to know theirs,” he explains. “Full design details and specifications, as well as project management and interfacing requirements, are all essential conversations which need to happen early in the project.”
Educational pools differ substantially from those for the residential sector. They are usually much larger and have a higher bather load for longer periods. Changing room facilities and pool side areas – for both swimmers and spectators – have to cope with many more people without compromising safety. These days they may need to cater for more varied needs as school and university pools open up after hours to different user groups. Paul is clear on this: “Every aspect of these pools has to work extremely hard. Above all, the filtration and pumping equipment which maintains the safety, quality and appearance of the water must cope with greater volumes and quicker cycle times. Quality and safety standards are paramount. Never compromise on the back room equipment because it must be robust to do a good job day after day.”
Filtration and pump systems may seem dull compared to the sparkle and splash of the pool area. However, the plant room is extremely important and will reveal to anyone the level of expertise of the designers and installers. The equipment must maintain the pool environment and water quality even at maximum usage times. Maintenance is often little discussed even though it is essential. The system needs to be easily accessible and user friendly for the pool staff, as well as efficient to run. Specialist knowledge, design and installation skills are needed to make sure it is optimal. Maximum pool capacity and bather load are topics we discuss very early in the process,” Paul emphasises: “We put a great deal of thought into designing filtration systems to fit the available plant room space, with a focus on user-friendly operation and maintenance requirements.
“To aid this, we create comprehensive, detailed, 3D drawings of all systems so that a well-designed top specification facility is agreed and delivered.” Paul advises: “Open that plant room door! If you see sleek equipment and beautiful pipe work – as crisp as the lines of the pool – with well positioned access points and plenty of space to work – then hopefully your pool provider has applied those same standards to the rest of the project.” The remit of most educational pools is to cater for a range of swimming capabilities and this impacts their design. A learner pool will undoubtedly benefit from a moveable floor to alter the water depth. This is a sophisticated piece of kit and needs skilled installation. Although such flexibility comes at a price, this must be costed against the benefits of fulfilling the needs of different user groups, keeping the pool up to date for longer and optimising the possibilities of generating extra income from more varied after-hours activities.
Educational pools have quite a different design look from even the largest hotel or leisure pools. They provide the environment for high energy activities and achievement, be that learning to swim or competing at national or international level. They might be described as utilitarian, but Paul has a different view. “They may not need the amazing artistic design features and relaxing ambience with the spas and saunas which we create for high-end residential and hotel pools. However, I think the clean, simple lines and crisp colours are very satisfying and help to energise an activity environment.”
Olympic gold medallist swimmer, Rebecca Adlington OBE, recently opened a competition pool, designed and built by Buckingham Pools to Swim England standards, for a school in the Midlands. She said at the opening ceremony that it was an incredible facility. The headmistress confirmed “We are absolutely delighted with the completed pool … we are all very excited to see the pool in full use.” The flexibility of the facilities allows the school to cater for all abilities and explore hiring out the pool to other user groups, generating welcome revenue. Over the last few years, the sector has become more diverse as the benefits of swimming have been recognised. They are no longer solely places for learning to swim or to train and compete. Pools are now desirable for sports injury and disability therapies. Alongside this development, there has been a great deal of innovation. Buckingham Pools is the renowned designer and builder of these specialised facilities, so Paul is best placed to expand on this theme. “It is a very proud moment when we hand over a 25m Olympic level competition pool, built to highly specific measurements, with underwater cameras and Swiss timing equipment.
“We certainly got a buzz when we completed the state-of-the-art performance facility at the Football Association’s National Centre. “This was exceptionally innovative and technical – with depth flexibility and temperature variation, an underwater camera system for technique analysis and an aquatic treadmill for enhanced training and injury therapies. “For me personally, it is always deeply satisfying to see how much pleasure users get from our sensory, special needs pools. We never under-estimate the need for exceptional design and attention to detail – sensory lighting and sound, temperature control, enhanced access points and hoist positioning, well thought out facilities with specialised equipment.” The educational sector is clearly diverse and, as with all large building projects, there are many complicated, technical aspects to consider in both design and execution.
Paul sums up the Buckingham Pools winning formula: “Buckingham Pools is all about attention to detail – whether we are wielding metaphorical pencils in our design studio or spanners on our construction sites. “We pride ourselves on open, prompt, honest communication with all parties, spear-headed by genuine customer focus. We want our customers to be delighted with our work. “We help our staff to maintain high skills levels. We provide them with up-to-date systems, equipment and materials so they can deliver exceptional work. I am very proud of our staff.” “All our staff love commissioning an educational pool. We know it will be well used. Swimming is an incredibly important life skill. “We find it very fulfilling to provide young people and adults with top quality facilities as they pursue their swimming journey.” Always aiming for top marks, the Buckingham Pools team are happy to advise on any aspect of swimming pool design, installation or servicing for any type of wet leisure facility be that educational, commercial or domestic throughout the UK.