Touching the Earth Lightly


Sporting Club Thamesmead’s building and the layout of the outdoor facilities have been designed by architects Saville Jones to reinforce the open nature of the site and to keep the impact of the built form on the land to a minimum.

The design philosophy is that where possible the building should ‘touch this earth lightly’, creating minimal impact and allowing the building to be appreciated as part of, and not simply placed, on the land. A sensitive environmental approach to the design of the structure has been developed, with the principal environmental objectives being to minimise the amount of energy and other resources used in the construction and operation of the building and encourage biodiversity. The latter has been achieved by replacing the grass lost with a sedum roof providing an environment for nesting birds and insects and ‘sinking’ the building into the ground.

The earth mounding around the perimeter has been seeded, concealing part of the building from view. The structure literally grows out of the ground. The earth also acts as an insulator and increases the energy conservation. The main principles to create an integrated environmental strategy have been to include ecological approaches in both the design philosophy and construction. These include:

  • Maximisation of daylight by incorporating roof lights and large areas of glazing
  • Natural ventilation, with mechanical cooling only in high activity areas
  • Some use of recycled materials that can be recycled at the end of their life
  • The integration of landscaping including safe cycle paths and footpaths to encourage eco-friendly means of transportation
  • Rainwater harvesting, the collection and recycling of rainwater stored in an underground cistern to reduce mains water consumption
  • Solar thermal panels to provide hot water
  • Ground source heat pumps generate the space heating, via an under floor heating system

“The Sporting Club Thamesmead building recedes into the landscape creating a sustainable, sensitive addition to its parkland setting. Externally a quarter of the building is hidden below ground and earth mounding, however from inside unrestricted views of the pitches and high levels of natural light creates a park pavilion atmosphere for all the community to enjoy.”

Haydn Jones, Saville Jones Architects