Are your facilities bursting at the seams?






Apollo Projects are specialists in the design and construction of industry-leading sporting and aquatic facilities. Recent projects completed include Council swimming pools, private Learn-to-swim schools and High Performance Sport New Zealand’s Christchurch Training Centre – now called the Apollo Projects Centre.

Apollo Projects – ISNZ Bronze Sponsor

Iain Ansell – Business Development Manager, Sporting & Aquatic Facilities

9 September 2015

As we move into spring, it’s a good time to reflect on the recent months past and how your school sport facilities coped during the wet and cold of winter. Was your gym bursting at the seams? Did you have to cancel any PE classes or games because of the weather? Did you struggle to manage the demands of various sports groups because of a lack of covered spaces or indoor facilities?

It’s all well and good to look with pride on your facilities at the start of the school year in the summer sun of February, but when the weather turns cold and wet, how does your gym or pool measure up?

As former Facility Manager for High Performance Sport NZ, as well as having children of my own who are actively involved in a wide range of school sports, I have a real-world understanding of sporting and aquatic facility use, operations and management – and especially the challenges associated with managing capacity and changing demands. 

Apollo Projects Centre-elite athlete training facilit.

It’s important to note that demands for and on facilities have changed dramatically over the years. Historically the school hall or gym had to cater only for PE classes and basketball. Nowadays, the array of indoor sports all wanting time is dramatically different – netball is seeing a shift indoors for games and training, as well as volleyball, badminton, futsal, dancesport, fencing – the list goes on!

With restricted indoor spaces available, many schools will be feeling the pressure of juggling the demands of these different sports and interest groups.

Health & Safety laws will now also trigger some concerns for many, given the number of basketball courts that have undersized run-offs and have been further compromised by the addition of the larger netball court markings. Having seen first-hand two recent head injury incidents in basketball due to restricted run-offs in school halls, I would have some concerns with many existing school facilities around the country.

At Apollo, we are not only industry experts in design and construction, but we are passionate about the sporting sector and building facilities which are safe, functional, cost-effective and efficient. Our research has shown us that the availability of facilities for school sport is critical in so many ways – for both the benefit of the students in terms of both their sporting and academic achievement, and also for the recruitment and retention of new students.

So what to build and how much to spend?

There have been some spectacular school facilities built recently; equally there have been many very functionally efficient and effective facilities built for a fraction of the cost.

It all depends on priorities, wants and needs. We would happily build a spectacular indoor sport pool facility for $15 million for School A; we would equally happily build a very smart indoor sport pool, plus three indoor basketball courts, a weights room plus a hockey turf for the same amount for School B.

We can’t emphasise it enough – the cost effective solutions can look great too! There are many clever ways through colour or simple design features to make these look fantastic – without creating a Greek financial crisis for your school!

We’ve also noticed a strong demand recently for open-sided covered courts or COLAs (covered outdoor learnings areas). These are a cost effective solution to providing sun protection, or just allowing some form of outdoor activity to take place when it’s wet.

In terms of aquatic facilities, the operating and ongoing maintenance costs of older pools can often lead to their closure, and schools are forced to explore other options like bussing students to local public facilities – which not only costs money but also a significant amount of time out of both the students’ and teachers’ days .

If your older school pool is nearing the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced, or the existing pool needs to be covered to cater for year round demand, a pool facility like the one pictured – with a 25 metre lap pool and learners’ pool – can be achieved for less than $5 million.

Canterbury Swim School

There are also some great options for refurbishment, with a new liner installed over the old leaky concrete pool – which can extend the pool’s life by decades. Pool depths can be raised as well, with new gutter systems or remodelling the floor then lining.

But what about the operational costs? Pools are often viewed as being very costly to run, but they can also pay their way! Recent examples of schools partnering with Learn-to-swim operators, swimming clubs, water polo, or even other schools can mean much more efficient and cost effective facilities – like anything they need to be well-managed and run in a business-like manner.

So, there are many solutions available to tackle an over-capacity issue. Let us work with you to develop a full design-build solution, utilising industry best practice and innovation to get the best result for you, not only during the build process but in the ongoing operation and maintenance of the facility. Lower costs, more space, better facilities, happy students and teachers – who doesn’t want that!


Additional Resources:

  1. UK Independent Schools' Sports Magazine
  2. Article on Excellence in Competitive Sport (OFTSED UK)

Key points:

  • Independent schools produce proportionally more elite sportspeople
  • Independent schools are more successful in school sports competitions
  • Factors that underpin the achievement of sporting success by independent schools and their students
  • Provision of competitive school sport in state maintained schools and academies
  • The relationship between competitive sport and wider achievement