Braywick Leisure Centre, Maidenhead
The all-new Braywick Leisure Centre in Maidenhead, Berkshire offers a complete community centre with all of the facilities that a traditional leisure centre has, plus a theatre, meeting rooms and an artisan café. This complex opened in September 2020 to widespread acclaim, being built on fully sustainable principles, and although larger than the old Magnet Leisure Centre, which it replaces, has running costs 70% lower. Designed by BRL Architects of Plymouth and London, this £35 million project was drawn up in consultation with the community, who jointly have come up with something very special.
Set in Braywick Park, a 31-acre nature reserve, which is known for its parkland and mature trees, careful consideration was made for the existing tree stock. Only one significant tree was removed to build the centre, and 150 new trees have been planted to further enhance bio-diversity and the experience of the leisure centre.
The history of the site goes back thousands of years; excavations have shown early flint workings and pottery that has been dated to 3340BC. There is evidence of a Roman road running through the site, and it has been used for mineral extraction in more recent times. An 18th-century house on the site, Braywick Lodge held the land as a private park until 1969 when it was acquired by the local authority, the mansion was demolished and the land opened to the public.
Of the 150 new trees planted on the site, 23 of them are planted in hard paving - in the main car park. In order to continue the atmosphere of the parkland, it was considered vital that these trees in the hard surfacing must thrive and be able to grow to maturity. Working closely with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, the GreenBlue Urban ArborSystem was specified, with the RootSpace soil cell holding the rooting medium in optimum conditions for tree health. This innovative solution incorporates the unique “Air Deck” soil cell lid, allowing full gaseous exchange across the complete soil volume, ensuring that anaerobic conditions cannot occur. The semi-mature trees are secured within the tree pit using the ArborGuy anchoring system, and the roots are guided downwards into the soil using a RootDirector. The soil aeration system is capped off with ArborVent 150 inlets, and the GreenBlue Urban RootSoil 20 assisted the early root growth with RootStart Mycorrhizal inoculant. ReRoot 600 root barrier was used in certain areas to protect adjacent surfacing from long term root heave, which means that the long term maintenance regime will only need to be minimal, with the trees as a maturing asset.
Constructed by the Toureen Group, the centre heralds a new dawn for residents and visitors to Maidenhead. By building an architecturally stunning complex, and mirroring this in the deep commitment to the landscaping around the centre, GreenBlue Urban are confident that this site will become the example leisure centre by which others are judged – and as the trees mature, will be even more attractive – and a better, healthier place to be!