The RIBA National Awards are given to buildings across the UK recognised as significant contributions to architecture, and follows a regional award earlier in the year, awarded to the building that was formally opened by HRH The Princess Royal in May 2018.
Director of Sport Zena Wooldridge said: “This is fantastic news. I’m delighted for the whole team involved in conceiving, designing and constructing such an impressive building. It’s not just the physical design and appearance of it, but it has a lovely welcoming feel to it too. It’s a building people love being in, and creates a sense of well-being and community. We’re very lucky to have such a magnificent building, and very proud it won a RIBA award.”
The state-of-the-art club features a 50m pool, 10m climbing wall, five activity studios and 200+ piece fitness gym – and has had a very successful first year of business. In addition to being chosen as the hosts of both squash and hockey at the upcoming 2022 Commonwealth Games, Sport & Fitness has attracted more than 10,000 members and welcomes over 1,000 school children every week for swimming lessons.
The new building has also allowed for multiple regional, national and international events to take place, such as the 2018 British Junior Squash Open – the most prestigious junior squash event in the world which had over 600 competitors, transferred its location from 22 years of being hosted in Sheffield to Birmingham, and was extremely well received. The showcase netball event hosted in the new Munrow Arena between local Superleague team Wasps and rival Manchester Thunder gave their upcoming under 15s, 17s, 19s and 21s a chance to play in front of a crowd, and the Birmingham International Fencing Tournament welcomed competitors from all over the world to the 26-piste event.
Furthermore, considering the facilities the University now have, UBSport was awarded funding from British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) to tackle mental health through physical activity, enabling the building to host a series of classes for those with visual, hearing and physical impairments.
The Sport and Fitness Club and Green Heart are part of a £600 million investment in the University of Birmingham’s campus, with a vision to provide state-of-the-art facilities to students and staff for generations to come.
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Photos: Guy Traynor