The Green Rivers project for Green Rivers Community Association and Pleck Boxing Club in association with Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council brings together two organisations to create a vibrant new facility for the community in Blackenall providing recreation and meeting facilities and sports facilities which include include boxing rings, training and keep fit areas. The design and its facilities showcase what can be achieved and the dramatic change that this type of building can bring to an area.
Through consultation sessions we were able to refine the brief for the building to create an efficient design which maximises the potential for sharing space, and strengthening links, whilst allowing the two organisations to retain their distinct identities. From the entrance a generous foyer space acts a central ‘piazza’ within which the different users of the building can come together and interact.
On the southern side of the piazza are located the community sports facilities, including the main sports hall used by the boxing club and the smaller secondary community sports hall. To the rear of the building a community terrace enables the activities taking place within the building to spill out and fully utilise the external space during summer months.
The form of the proposed building is intrinsically linked to its function; the roof of the building slopes from its highest point at the midpoint of the main sports hall, down to a more human scale at the northern end of the building, near the entrance and the Wyrley & Essington Canal.
The ambition was for the building to achieve a BREEAM excellent rating, and set new benchmarks locally for environmental sustainability. We worked in collaboration with low carbon consultants to prepare the feasibility study. A hybrid structural system was developed utilising a timber frame and structurally insulated panels in combination with recycled blockwork at low level.
A green roof, planted with native grasses and wildflower species was proposed for the majority of the roof area of the centre, providing additional habitat for local wildlife, reducing storm water run, providing additional thermal mass and aiding in the removal of pollutants from the air and rainwater.
Over the Community Hall a number of helical, vertical axis wind generators are incorporated and above the main Sports Hall dramatic roof top wind scoops direct natural light and ventilation into the heart of the building.