Silver Winner in Public & Leisure | 2022

Colin Tilley
Willmott Dixon
All Finalists

Willmott Dixon

Aspire @ the Park, Pontefract, West Yorkshire

Aspire @ the Park, Pontefract, West Yorkshire: construction of 22,000sqm leisure centre, completed in 98 weeks. 

Client: Wakefield Council 

Contract: NEC 

Value: 19m

About the Project

As Colin Tilley had been on the construction management team for a previous leisure centre scheme for the client, he was well aware of how problematic swimming pools can be to build. He had, though, learned the lessons and reiterated them for the two pools in this scheme.  

He focused on getting the concrete pour sequencing for the water tanks right, and mastering the logistics – in particular, moving the concrete shuttering in and out of a tight working space. He also cast the balance tank and backwash tank in situ in advance of both pools’ main walls. 

His innovation came from his realisation that the traditional uplighters and mirrors/reflectors to project light throughout pool areas often look unsightly. Why not, he thought, install direct lighting instead?  

The reason why not is that glare on the pool water can create safety issues. Undeterred, Colin located a leisure centre that had recently installed direct lighting throughout its pool hall. Much discussion ensued, with Colin’s non-glare solution winning out – not only because it was safe and offered great aesthetics, but also because it slashed running costs. 

The client liked the honesty, passion and insistence on quality. Just as importantly, Colin ensured community relations never soured. He kept the neighbouring racecourse and residents in the picture, and allowed race-goers to leave their cars in his overflow car park and presented Christmas hampers to the neighbours.