In the Press: Building study: PAD studio's tennis pavilion in Southsea



PAD studio’s first public building, a tennis pavilion in Southsea, Portsmouth, provides a versatile and airy community leisure facility that sits lightly in its parkland context, says Rob Wilson.

Engineer’s view

The project was first conceived as a load-bearing blockwork structure, supporting exposed precast planks at first floor level, with a lightweight steel frame pavilion on top. The essence of these early design decisions remains in the finished building. 

On the ground floor we have used the blockwork walls to provide vertical support. The tight plan means that the wall positions are fixed and there is limited need for future flexibility in terms of their position. The linear nature of the walls facilitates simple strip foundations below a beam-and-block ground floor.

A concrete soffit was desired at first floor level for services, thermal mass and aesthetic reasons. The first floor was initially planned as high-quality lattice girder precast planks, an approach that also enabled us to use void-formers in the slabs to reduce weight and cope with the long spans of 9.4m. 

Procurement of these planks proved to be difficult due to the scale of the project and we made the decision to switch the first floor construction to in-situ concrete, poured as a flat slab with the void-formers cast into the concrete. Reinforcement bar prevented the void-formers from floating during the wet concrete stage. It was a tricky pour on a small scale but was achieved well on site.

The roof of the pavilion has a thin edge profile and is supported by columns at that thin edge, rather than cantilevering beyond the supports, which would be the more typical arrangement.

There are some carefully designed steel details in the roof structure that enable the steel beams to reduce mid-span to accommodate this edge and to allow the central gutter to pass through the steelwork.

Toby Ronalds, director, Eckersley O’Callaghan

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