Wed 23 Oct 2019

Saunders Boston Architects crowned Civic Building of the Year champions at SPACES Awards 2019

Saunders Boston Architects crowned Civic Building of the Year champions at SPACES Awards 2019

Saunders Boston Architects scooped two awards at the Society for Public Architecture, Construction, Engineering and Surveying (SPACES) Awards 2019 for its design of Sapphire Ice and Leisure Centre in Romford, Essex; receiving Civic Building of the Year 2019 and the Community Award.

Sapphire Ice and Leisure Centre beat over 100 other submissions from across the UK to the prestigious awards to be crowned champions, which celebrates and showcases the best of public buildings.

Nathan Swift, Director at Saunders Boston Architects and Project Director of Sapphire Ice and Leisure Centre, said: “We had a fantastic team on the delivery of this project – on time, on budget and most importantly, it was for the Romford community and local area. It is fantastic to be celebrating this incredible project through not one, but two, award wins with the team, our client and the local authority.”

The striking building, which was built by Willmott Dixon, supports the London Borough of Havering’s long-term commitment to providing state of the art leisure facilities for the local community. The centre is one of only a handful of leisure centres in the UK where an ice rink is constructed directly above a swimming pool; a usual design would see the swimming pool and ice rink at ground level, side by side.

The design of the centre required extensive research and collaboration between specialist condensation consultants, structural engineers, mechanical and electrical designers, manufacturers, Saunders Boston Architects and Willmott Dixon, in order to overcome a vast range of technological uncertainties due to the unique space and brief.

Nathan Swift explained that one of the most challenging elements of the leisure centre design was the lighting: “The right atmosphere in a swimming pool is critical – natural light adds to the quality of space, however excess glare on the water’s surface can make it difficult for lifeguards to see below the water line. Our solution to this was to use translucent polycarbonate panels, which minimised glare while allowing natural light into the building during the day, and projecting artificial lighting back outside at night.”

Mark Butler from the London Borough of Havering Council, said: “When Saunders Boston Architects joined the team, they brought with them a fresh approach, working collaboratively with the design partners, including the local authority, contractor and sub-contractors and our key funding partner, Sport England”.


Click the link below for full project details:,sapphire-ice-leisure-centre_64.htm