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City of London Freemen’s School

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City of London Freemen’s School

Architectural Practice Hawkins\Brown has used timber to create an elegant cathedral-like structure for a new swimming pool, a structure which is also corrosion-resistant, resilient and carbon-neutral.

The new six-lane, 25 metre competition pool building stands, surrounded by ancient woods, on the campus of City of London Freemen’s School, a co-educational private school for about 800 day and boarding pupils. The swimming pool (which replaces one destroyed by fire) was designed with a range of users in mind and is fully accessible. Outside school hours it can be used by local residents and swimming clubs.

The pool is enclosed by a glulam portal frame structure braced with CLT roof and wall panels. The glulam portal frames run at the long sides of the pool. A further row of glulam columns runs along the west end, the ‘deep end’ of the pool. The glulam beams and columns are butt-jointed and all connections are concealed; there are no exposed bolts.

Each glulam column is fitted at low level with a viewing bench, fabricated from CLT, with another set of CLT benches closer to the pool.

The glulam portal frame and the CLT roof are exposed internally and coated with a surface spread of flame system with a white translucent finish, helping to create a soft, warm environment in which to swim.

The timber structure had a number of advantages in dealing with the challenges of a pool environment; timber is resilient, a thermal insulator and corrosion-resistant. The PEFC-certified spruce was pre-cut, drilled and machined in the high tech factory of Wiehag in Austria, and all metalwork was factory-fitted, enabling a fast, safe installation which minimised disruption to the school as well as producing little waste or dust.

Products Specified

  • Envirograf Waterborne Adhesion Primer - ES/VFR Primer

  • Envirograf Q/VFR Fire Retardant Coating Tinted to TVT 1598

  • Protective Waterborne Matt finish Clear Topseal HSP TCW

Fire rated to EN 13501-1 A1-B/S1/d0 The highest classification for these types of product.


  • RIBA National Award 2018

  • Structural Timber Awards, Education Project of the Year 2018

  • RIBA South East Award 2018

  • RIBA South East Sustainability Award 2018

  • RIBA South East Client of the Year 2018

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