Described as the best indoor football training facility at club level in the country, the Academy of Light’s football barn provides for all of the club’s representative teams, from the youngest age groups through to the under 18, under 21 and senior squads, as well as the Sunderland Ladies team with indoor training facilities.
The project comprised the design and build of a single storey bespoke football training facility of bespoke requirements, measuring 64m long with sidewalls of 7.75m and a central internal clearance of 10m high.
The facility provided the cover required for the indoor football pitch which was laid on a tarmac substrate. The barn comprised a galvanized steel frame on pad foundations with a white bespoke stretched fabric, PVC clad roof, a large gutter system, a Fullflow syphonic drainage system and four large vent roof cowls along the apex. The structure was timber clad and stands 12.5m high at its apex and comprised a translucent roof which allows natural daylight to illuminate the interior full size indoor 4G football pitch.
Cedar cladding was installed on the upper level of the structure’s side walls and gables, coupled with retaining stone filled bespoke gabion walls on the lower level, which provided an attractive finish to the barn. The gabion walls contributed an element of prestige to the barn in keeping with the Academy of Light which was built into the landscape and sympathetic to the surrounding Great North Forest.
The gabion retaining walls were chosen not only for their aesthetic appeal but also because of their sustainability and ability to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% compared to a concrete retaining wall of the same height. The project’s external works comprised the adaptation of existing screening mounds to provide practical tarmac surfaced access routes into the Academy of Light. The timber cladding walls were pre fabricated off-site which saved c.6 weeks of programme time which allowed the contract to be completed on time.
The building was constructed with a building system which provided a lightweight frame which benefited the programme whilst complying with the requirements of the highly sensitive site. Through collaborative working with a custom fabric buildings specialist, Tolent ensured that changes in the overall facility footprint and height in accordance with planning conditions were met to ensure available space was maximised.