A new, onsite hub for physical fitness and exercise at the American School in London.
The American School in London offers students an American college curriculum which, alongside academic subjects, places a strong emphasis on physical education, fitness and exercise. This commitment means that the gymnasium accommodation is the most well-used (and indeed, overscheduled) learning space at its urban campus in St Johns Wood in London, and many physical education classes have to be taken off campus because there is inadequate provision. The concept for this project to create a new pool and fitness centre is not only shaped by the demand for more space, but also an extremely constrained site. The campus has been improved extensively, leaving no option but to carve out space under the existing playground – and above an underground railway line below.
The majority of the new fitness centre will therefore sit at lower ground level, and a key challenge has been to deliver the necessary daylight into the space. This has been achieved by the careful positioning of light voids and scoops, supplemented by artificial lighting. The centre includes an underground pavilion (housing fitness and dance studios and changing facilities) along with the pool itself. It is important that the centre remains central to school life (rather than being a ‘forgotten’ space, below ground) and so the design reinforces visual and physical connections with the proposed art block and science facility nearby, as well as the playground which will be enhanced by areas of new landscaping. This inter connectedness enlivens the circulation spaces between each building, as well as giving the new centre a strong presence at the heart of the school.