Gilberts Blackpool delivers at Sandwell Aquatics Centre

  • 29 Aug 2023

Gilberts has dived into the challenge of delivering a sports venue fit for international competition and evolving it into a state-of-the-art community facility to engage local residents.

Sandwell Aquatics Centre was conceived for the 2022 Commonwealth Games with the intention of its evolution into an inclusive centre of excellence for the community. It set the pace for progammes of this type: consultants Arup achieved design to completion in just three years- half the typical duration.

With three pools including a 50m Olympic sized one, 100+ gym stations, a sports hall, dry diving area, sauna, indoor cycling studio and a café, one of the major challenges for Arup was designing the building services, for installation by Shepherd Building Services (part of Wates Group).  

As the UK’s leading air movement specialist, Gilberts was chosen to support Arup and Wates to address the diverse and potentially aggressive environments. Components needed to deliver the indoor air quality, adequate extraction of moisture and CO2 and supply of conditioned air appropriate for each area.


Gilberts worked closely with the team from outset to completion providing advice and technical support for the design. 

More than 270 different types and configurations of grilles and diffusers feature at the facility, including its popular GSJA swirl diffusers, vision-proof transfer grilles, linear bar grilles and air valves.

Various finishes

Gilberts added various finishes – suitable for the diverse environments – included brush finish, matt black and gloss to RAL9010 pure white, in line with the specification.

Martin Malyon, Gilberts Midlands Area Sales Manager and Chris Finch, SES Engineering Services, comment: “The concept was to create a long-lasting legacy that will make the centre a ‘go to’ place to inspire people to be active.

“Behind that is the holistic endeavour that everyone who works in or uses the Centre needs to be comfortable whether they are working at a desk or working out in the gym, relaxing in the café or swimming. Getting the delivery and quality of air right is critical. It was a complex challenge, a challenge we have delivered.”

Alison Kilby, Associate Director Building Engineering at Arup, adds: “The decision to use Gilberts ultimately came from SES Engineering Services Limited who were the M&E sub-contractor however, using local products to minimise the embodied carbon in installations is always something that we consider on the projects Arup work on.  

“Local design and production are a big benefit and a step towards reducing the embodied carbon on the building services installations on new build schemes.”

Other venues

Sandwell Aquatics Centre is the latest in a line of prestigious sporting venues featuring Gilberts’ key building services components. These include the London Stadium, Anfield, and Wimbledon.


Gilberts of Blackpool,
Gilair Works,
Clifton Road,
FY4 40T

Phone: 01253 766911
Fax: 01253 767941

Visit Gilberts of Blackpool's website

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