Gilbert-Ash completes innovative swimming pool for Freemen’s School

Award-winning UK construction, refurbishment and fit out contractor,
Gilbert-Ash, has recently completed the Freemen’s School project in Ashtead, Surrey, including an engineered timber swimming pool.

Replacing the school’s original pool building which was lost to fire in 2014, the project provides a purpose-built 25m, six lane competition pool with changing facilities and a multi-functional teaching and events space.

Working closely with architects Hawkins\Brown, the design and construction of the sustainable swimming pool sits gently within its natural woodland surroundings. Using
state-of-the-art timber construction, a zinc wrap and offsite fabrication methods, the material palette complements the external setting creating a special environment for swimming.

The construction of the pool includes a glue-laminated timber (glulam) portal frame, braced with cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels. The use of engineered timber provides a fast, efficient, carbon neutral method of construction and ensures the pool is resilient, a thermal insulator and corrosion resistant.

On site, the erection of the glulam portal frame, cross-laminated timber walls and roof took just over three weeks. This allowed the detailed design and full construction of the building to be delivered in one year.

To minimise its impact on the school’s Grade II listed landscape, the swimming pool’s lower ground floor is partially submerged. This sub-merges the structure into the surrounding scenery and preserves a large number of the existing trees. The highest point of the gently pitched zinc wrap roof marks the main entrance of the building.

Kevin Mallon, Project Manager at Gilbert-Ash commented: “We are delighted to have completed this unique project for the prestigious Freemen’s School within the agreed budget and with minimum impact on school operations. It has been very enjoyable working closely with the school staff and pupils at each stage of the construction, including escorted on-site tours, for both educational engagement and to ensure a smooth project and transition for the school body.

Roland Martin, Headmaster of Freemen’s School, commented, “The School is overwhelmed by the beauty and quality of the new swimming pool – it is a fantastic new asset for the School and the local community. We have been truly impressed by the swift construction of the pool, and how it fits in the woodland space and complements the school as a whole.”

Adam Cossey, Partner at Hawkins\Brown, said: “Freemen’s School’s new swimming pool is a welcoming retreat that engages with the mature woodland setting through the use of natural materials and colour schemes.

The deep columns of the all-timber construction and wrap around glazing, which afford direct views from the water into the woodland, give the sense of swimming amongst the trees.

The construction of the pool has afforded the opportunity to work closely with Gilbert Ash providing a positive collaborative experience.”

The swimming pool marks the second phase of a 4-stage masterplan by the City of London, School in Ashtead, Surrey, with a view to improve the quality of the school’s listed campus setting.

Highly detailed design, advanced logistical planning and development goes into every Gilbert-Ash project, with the team skilled in delivering the finest quality projects in the UK and globally.

For more information on Gilbert-Ash visit

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