Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar School
Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar School is a 5 badminton court sized hall, with provision for Basketball, Netball, Volleyball, Futsal, Hockey and Handball.
We have faced a variety of challenges throughout our time developing sports halls. Each project generally presents its own set of complications, sometimes relating to existing structures, surrounding areas or site conditions and in other cases, it’s purely about budget, keeping numerous funding partners happy, or meeting a deadline.
Our first challenge was the location of the site - adjacent to an ecologically important area - a habitat for newts, badgers, reptiles, dormice, nesting birds and bats.
Secondly, when construction started we discovered that the ground was not as predicted by the in-depth ground investigation survey and report. We were expecting to be able to build with traditional foundations, but due to soft spots throughout the ground on the site, that was no longer possible. This led to a change of design once work had begun.
Constructing in March 2020 with the foundations complete - then were promptly sent in to lock-down and it wasn’t clear whether building sites should close or not - there were numerous problems associated with finding ourselves in these unfamiliar circumstances.
Each unique set of circumstances, is thought about and considered, in depth, by Ball Hall at the outset of the project. We bring all of our previous experience and expertise to the fore and try where possible, to apply a combination of creative and pragmatic thinking to problem solve in each case.
We engaged an ecologist at a very early stage and worked closely and carefully with him to satisfy the local authority. The timing and complicated process of newts breeding cycles, means to relocate them is time critical and this can significantly delay work starting.
Our ecologist was part of recent consultation on a new licence that has been rolled out to combat these issues and to positively respond by providing alternative habitats. He was very knowledgeable and quick to work with us on this alternative solution and saved a hugely expensive delay.
When the problems with the ground were discovered, we collaborated with the contractor to identify a suitably alternative design. We discussed costs and programme options with the client and quickly agreed what needed to happen and construction continued to move forward without delay.
With regards to COVID - we worked out with the contractor, exactly where they were on the programme. We quickly identified trades and suppliers that were likely to suffer problems, delays or experience shortages and discussed whether we should stop construction or continue.
In the end, we decided that we would carry on, but, it meant many changes to the programme and a flexible approach. For instance, under our usual sequencing, the next activity should have been putting the roof on. We could not get roof, so we went ahead and laid the concrete first and put the roof on later.
We carried out the works in accordance with a new COVID led health and safety guidance.
Ball Hall Added Value
With all the difficulties of a project considered upfront and contingency built in for unforeseen events or conditions, Ball Hall deliver outstanding buildings for sport. A Ball Hall Sports Hall often exceeds expectation and consistently becomes a flag waving celebration for the organisation, with many further benefits that materialise over time.
Ball Hall Added Value
Despite some challenges, our hands on approach and close coordination with school and contractor - meant this project was completed successfully and the school were delighted with the resulting facility.
Our unique way of working and flexibility meant that senior members of the Ball Hall team were on hand and available to ensure what ever needed to be done, was done - in order to deliver our programme. Our commitment to looking after our client’s interests is part of our culture within the whole Ball Hall team. So when uncertainties and the unexpected were presented to us, it was second nature to pull out the stops for the sake of the project.
We have a done a good number of sports halls throughout the UK, and in this case, our clients were able to visit another local facility. This meant we were able to take a very detailed brief and the client was almost able to pick and choose finishes and equipment, according to what they saw, and at the same time get a really good feel for scale.