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PONDS FORGE INTERNATIONAL SPORTS CENTRE

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Ponds Forge pool was constructed between 1988 and 1990 to designs by the architects FaulknerBrowns with Ove Arup and Partners as structural engineers. It contains an Olympic size swimming pool, a leisure pool with fountains, waterfalls and flowing river, a diving pool and dry sports hall. In the foyer area are a cocktail bar and a self-service restaurant. The exterior of the structure is clad in granite whilst a flared glass wall surrounds the leisure pool. The main pool measures 50 x 25 metres and has two floating floors, enabling areas to be cordoned off for training and aerobics. Two stainless-steel mobile bulkheads further subdivide the pool. At the far end, the diving pool has an underwater system which agitates the surface so that divers can estimate their distance from impact (the top of the board is 10 metres high). A cushion of giant air bubbles can be released from the bottom of the pool to soften the landing during training. The whole area is covered by a 54 x 84 metre clear-span roof, weighing 400 tonnes and resting on just eight supports. The site of the centre is on top of disused mines and culverts which carried water from the River Sheaf. These all had to be excavated and filled in - during the process an 85 tonne anvil block, once used for steelmaking, was unearthed.

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