Solent University Sports Complex

Southampton, Hampshire

Project Details


Solent University

Project Manager

Mace Group


Architecture plb


Morgan Sindall



Contract Period

85 weeks

Procurement Type

Design & Build

Form of Contract



6,982 sqm

Project Brief

A new build four-storey steel frame building which includes two sports hall, three fitness studios, a health and well-being gym, a strength and conditioning high performance gym and high quality teaching facilities on a live university campus. the scheme also includes underground car parking.

The regeneration of the sports hall is part of Solent University’s on-going £100 million estates development plan to transform the East Park Terrace campus in order to improve and modernise the University. The new facilities will support and enable excellence in sport.

From the outset, the University’s vision for the project was very clear and ambitious; the new sports facility will improve and modernise the University and enable excellence in sport, health and fitness related degree programmes and associated teaching and research for staff, students and the local community.

The project is a visually stunning, flagship sport facility which is enhancing Solent University’s offering in advanced sports degree courses and it is already facilitating in attracting more students to the local area and inspiring people to take part in sport.

Building upon the site’s history

The sports complex is built in a strategic location near to Southampton Docks, which were significantly targeted during the Second World War. Wartime bomb records revealed that the sports complex site previously featured row upon row of terraced housing, which were badly hit during the Southampton Blitz on 1940.

These findings along with the city centre location Solent’s East Park Terrace campus meant the site required a full Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)  Survey and probe at every pile location before any construction work could begin. This is something that teams working in the local area are familiar with  and learning can be shared, as a similar approach has been used on other construction projects in the area.

The University were keen to share the site’s historical significance in maritime history and was clad in a striking perforated facade which wraps the entire building, displaying a pattern based on an abstract of the pre-war street layout of the surrounding area. At the same time, however, the sports complex must look to the future to ensure the facilities are used by student for years to come, ensuring that the building meets and exceeds environmental  standards.

“Morgan Sindall Construction are extremely collaborative and work well as a team. They communicate effectively and share the common goals of the project; this ensured the result of the finished facility. The work was of good quality and they worked well with the consultants and wider team which has benefited the project.”

Community Engagement

Morgan Sindall undertook numerous initiatives to support young people and those looking for careers in construction, including university students, local schools and colleges, as well as working with the local JobCentre Plus, Rainbow Project and Southern Universities Network. They adopted the University’s in-house design agency, Solent Creative as our go-to media and communications partner, providing practical, paid work for students. They provided guest lectures for the University’s construction and architecture students including BIM & VR which were used as part of their curriculum, and Substructure CPD by our consultants. Morgan Sindall’s design managers provided advice for a third-year construction student’s dissertation, conducted mock-interviews and three days of site visits for over 100 students. In total, they achieved 80 on-site apprenticeship weeks, created 8 jobs & 5 work placements and took part in 9 careers events.

Morgan Sindall looked at supporting local charities which made a real difference to peoples’ lives in the Southampton area. These included the Saints Foundation (SF) who aim to improve the lives of children, young people and adults at risk and the Lighthouse Club; a construction charity who provide financial/ emotional support to the construction community and their families. Through a SF careers fair they met James Grant, who had been out of work for some time, and offered him a work placement. Following completion, one of their subcontractor’s offered him a permanent position. Another success was the employment of a local resident who was out of work.

Project Takeaways

Our Success

From the outset Morgan Sindall worked closely with Solent University and Southampton City Council gaining a full understanding of the university and local area to identify opportunities which would make a positive impact to young people and the Southampton area.

Social value was a key success with the scheme providing the following returns on an exceptional effort from Morgan Sindall and client team buy-in:

  • Project created £18m in social value
  • 36 SMEs contributing 86% of the project spend
  • Over 1,800 volunteering hours
  • Engaged with 577 pupils over 51 hours
  • BIM, VR, Architectural and Engineering lectures carried out to students by both MS and our design team
  • Significant engagement with local charities including the Saints Foundation and Solent Creatives
  • Considerate Constructors score of 44

The project was recognised by our client team as such a success we have secured another scheme with with them strengthening our excellent relationship with the client.

Our Learnings

  • The seminar and gym areas of the sports complex are fitted with 20mm soft joints between the room floor slabs. these help to isolate them and significantly reduce the vibration that passes through them. In the weight training area they went a step further and introduced a cast in-situ reinforced concrete sprung floor. To achieve this, a polythene release sheet was set in place on top of the main concrete floor slab and steel reinforcement was set in place. Steel cups were them placed at 1.4m centres with lugs that clip beneath the reinforcement. Concrete was then poured to the slab depth, in this case 125mm, and left to cure as normal. Once cured, the cops of the cups were removed and a steel spring inserted into each cip. the slab was then screwed into position. This caused the newly-cast slab to lift from the release sheet and formed an 85mm void between its underside and the main floor slab. This innovation means that the sports hall can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what activity they are involved in.
  • One of the requirements of the project was that the building achieved a BREEAM Excellent rating. To achieve this target, the project team were able to tap into a unique geothermal heating and cooling network that extends around Southampton City Centre. The heating system uses ground-source heat pumps that enable buildings to tap into it. This means that there are no boilers and no gas supply on the scheme. the geothermal heating system reduces carbon emissions by nearly 50% compared to natural gas boilers. In addition to this, photo voltaic panels were mounted on the sports complex roof to provide and additional source of renewable energy. The complex also uses grey water from the showers, which is treated and used to flush the toilets. These measures combine to reduce CO2  emissions by 30%, helping the building to achieve an EPC A Rating and a BREEAM Excellent rating.

Value Added

The project left a lasting legacy by establishing its position as a responsible business and demonstrating Morgan Sindall’s commitment to social value through the positive impact they made on the Southampton area including:

  • Providing a targeted Employment and Skills Plan with Southampton City Council (SCC) to meet targeted groups including 16-25 and NEETS.
  • Creating a world-class high-performance facility for use by elite athletes, health and fitness degree students and the general public/ community
  • Building a specialist basketball court with specialist scoring and retractable seating. This is home to local basketball team ‘Solent Kestrels’ and community wheelchair basketball team ‘Solent Sharks’ and offers sporting opportunities to the disabled community across the south coast. It also provides access to the University’s Sports Science facilities and expertise including support with their physiological and biomechanical development. To further build on this legacy, team ‘Solent Sharks’ is extremely active in the local community and regularly promotes disability sport.
  • Providing a flagship building – Heritage of Southampton has been recognised by the external design on the cladding by local architecture practice APLB. The external cladding is designed to reflect an old Ordnance Survey map of Southampton, whilst also reflecting the modern ‘feel’ of a flagship building in Southampton.

Awards received for the project also include:

  • Solent received the University Bronze Charter Mark award from England Athletics, one of only 6 universities to received a charter mark award to date.
  • Construction News Award 2020 – Community Engagement Project of the Year
  • As a responsible business, we are considerate of our working environment and the areas we deliver our projects. This project successfully received both a Silver and Bronze Considerate Constructors Scheme Award and Certificate for Performance Beyond Compliance.

KPI’s & Statistics

ContractGateway 3 Contact AgreementGateway 4 Practical CompletionVariation
Time86 weeks78 weeks-8 weeks