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LIGHTING | SANDWELL AQUATICS CENTRE Sandwell Aquatics Centre was one of the standout venues of this summers Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. But how do you light such a unique environment to balance the competitions needs with those of the facilitys long-term legacy? Whitecroft Lightings Adam Hands explains The light aquatic A fter Birmingham was selected as host city for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in 2017, organisers recognised that, with only one Olympic-sized swimming pool in the region, the Midlands lacked a world-class facility capable of hosting international competition. As a result, Sandwell Aquatics Centre, completed in April 2022, was the only new, purpose-built venue contracted for the Games, staging the swimming and diving competitions, and hosting more medal events than any other venue. It will be reconfigured and reopened in 2023 as a community facility, to be operated by the Sandwell Leisure Trust. Wates was the main contractor on the project, with SES the M&E contractor and Arup the design consultant. Whitecroft Lighting was chosen to manufacture and supply lighting for the facility, including the main arena, training pools and auxiliary areas, which threw up several challenges. Not only did we have to make sure the divers wouldnt get distracted by glaring lights during their complex routines, but we also had to ensure that metal light fittings would not be affected by the highly corrosive atmosphere created by swimming pools. The facilities required to stage a Games are very different from those needed for a community sports facility, so a substantial reconfiguration of the aquatic centre would be necessary after all the athletes had gone home including the removal of 4,000 temporary seats. Very different lighting would also be required; the needs of television, for example, demanded 1,000 to 1,500 Lux compared with the normal 500. This controlled level of lighting was met by the broadcasters and required temporary shades to be fitted to the windows to reduce natural light. Minimising glare We still had to ensure that the infrastructure lights provided the correct quality of lighting and aesthetics in and around the main competition pool and, in particular, that the lighting aided competition use. A key element of the brief was to reduce glare in specific areas of the main arena to maintain visual comfort for competitors and spectators. At a lower level of the arena, we had to avoid glare from the surface of the swimming pool and the lifeguard stations, while, higher up in the arena, we had to factor in the impact on high-board divers and the view for the audiences in elevated seating areas. Once a high-board diver is standing on the platform, 10 metres above the pool, they are only metres from the roof and the lighting installations. It would be very disorientating for them to be momentarily dazzled by the lighting before or while executing a dive. We also had to avoid similar issues with spectators seated higher up, who could be facing the lights for hours at a time. To ensure this was achieved in advance of installation, we assisted the design team with 3D digital modelling, using DIALux software and AutoCAD lighting layouts of the main pool hall. This allowed us to virtually move and adjust the hall lighting until the right levels of illuminance were achieved in the appropriate areas. It would be very disorientating for a highboard diver to be momentarily dazzled by the lighting before or while executing a dive 58 October 2022 www.cibsejournal.com CIBSE Oct 22 pp58-59 Sandwell Aquatic Centre Supp.indd 58 26/09/2022 16:12