City of London Shoreditch Academy and Hackney Britannia Leisure Centre

  • Client

    London Borough of Hackney

  • Contractor

  • Value


  • Completion Date

    December 2021

New 6FE secondary school for 940 pupils and 200 6th form.  Roof top sports pitch and playground.  BREAAM Outstanding at design stage.  High environmental performance.

New 4-storey Britannia Leisure Centre with mix of single, double and triple height spaces.  Six-lane 25m main pool and 20m training both with moveable floors and leisure features including 3-storey flume.  Café and toilets.  Indoor 6 court sports hall.  Creche and soft play area.  Sauna and steam room.  Fitness suite (spin studio and 2 exercise studios).  Four squash courts.  Two rooftop 5-a-side pitches and 2 rooftop tennis courts.

The Challenge

Shoreditch Academy: As the existing Britannia Leisure Centre remained open throughout construction, customer access into the leisure centre needed to be modified to facilitate the COLASP building which was almost the footprint of the existing carpark and therefore logistically challenging.

Leisure Centre: Externally, we focused on a design solution to encourage the local community to participate in sports and lead a more active lifestyle. As such, the cellular changing accommodation was positioned in the centre of the building, with the pool-halls and other sports spaces wrapped around the perimeter. This produced an elevated, animated building that entices the public into the facility.

Thames Water sewer: Construction of the leisure centre was complicated by the presence of an existing large diameter Thames Water storm relief sewer that runs diagonally across the site at a depth of 14m. This sewer has an exclusion zone of 3m either side and above it where no new construction is allowed. The building is on a tight footprint and the leisure activity zones are ‘stacked’ vertically which created some interesting challenges in structural stability and vibration control. Spanning 9m over the sewer and due to the diagonal alignment, equates to some 14m on grid, this alone brings significant construction challenges. The site also directly sits on the position of a vertical access shaft which gave access to the sewer for maintenance and emergency escape purposes.

The Solution

Shoreditch Academy: We designed an innovative ramped solution into the top floor of the Leisure Centre building to allow it to remain open while the new school was built.  We fixed transport routes around the whole site to manage traffic and deliveries. There was a cycle superhighway adjacent to our site, which required collaboration with the highways team. The proposed route for Crossrail 2 was also located directly underneath the new Academy, so the building design needed to be considered due to strict loading restrictions imposed by Crossrail.

We designed a unique groundworks solution to incorporate the temporary sheet piling into the permanent structure at basement level, creating an extremely cost-effective solution for the project. The precast cladding was then selected as it required no scaffolding and cut down on noise and vibration on vehicle deliveries to the site.

The façade was also load-bearing and allowed the design of the concrete framed structure to be simplified and fast erection on site while minimising construction site area. We even designed the City of London logo onto the facades via a patterned concrete finish which was then installed along with all other panels. The future Crossrail tunnels, size of the building and constrained nature of the site required an innovative approach. The building footprint was kept as small as possible to maximise the playground areas, taking advantage of the existing topography to create an amphitheatre playground.

Leisure Centre: Due to the complexity of the stacked leisure centre we had to keep the sports hall free of columns, and to bridge over the pool areas a complicated steel truss arrangement was needed. Spanning over 10m in height and 50m in length, the spine of the building spans 3 floors. Due to these structural intricacies, this was built on-site then lifted into place with two 500 tonne cranes in a tandem crane lift. This was an innovative and important project milestone for the build, which was completed safely and successfully.

We developed a team of specialist engineers whose knowledge and input enabled us to create a safe, on time and to budget build. As an example, the main 25m swimming-pool hall is double-height, and the leisure pool hall is triple height. Each of these pool spaces contains warm, moist air which is under positive pressure. Cooler spaces such as the sports hall and fitness gym are positioned over the pool-halls therefore the environmental separation between each of these spaces was a key construction challenge. To help deliver this environmental control we involved a specialist mechanical engineer with a focus on finite engineering. This ensured we maintained the continuity and integrity of the vapour control layer both vertically and horizontally within the building, preventing pool-hall air migrating through the building envelope, preventing it condensing on any cooler surfaces or spaces. Maintaining the continuity of the vapour control layer and insulation performance was particularly important for our roof-top pitches. We knew the importance of having an air-tight vapour control layer that was chlorine resistant for the longevity and overall safety of the build.

Thames Water sewer: We worked with Buro Happold and Thames Water to overcome the main risks of working over the sewer. This involved developing a working / construction methodology of preventing the sewer from trying to pop out of the ground due to buoyancy when it was empty or bursting under 14m head of water pressure when it became full. One of the main the concerns was that by excavating over the sewer to form the basement areas and pool shells, we would be effectively reducing the weight of the soil over the pipe, increasing the risks associated with buoyancy or bursting. Early involvement commissioned a detailed line and level survey to ascertain the precise depth and alignment of the sewer pipe, this led to greater confidence and understanding of design parameters and restrictions.

The Results

Shoreditch Academy: The school was originally due to open in September 2021; however, we were able to hand over the building for the school to occupy earlier than planned in June 2021 to use for their final school term and allow the year 11 pupils to carry out their final exams in their new school.

Leisure Centre: With our attention to detail and meticulous checking systems we are set to achieve BREEAM Excellent. The building’s energy design philosophy was to connect into the future district heating system which was being provided as part of the redevelopment of the Colville Estate.

To enable this to occur a temporary energy centre serving both the leisure centre and school, was installed and removed once the permanent connection to the energy centre was installed. Our district heating system and the overall design compliments the energy targets established in the New London Plan, so all equipment installed is energy efficient.

As an example, we use low energy fans to minimise energy consumption and have PV panels on the roof that supports our on-site sustainability strategy. Supporting our sustainability goals, we took advantage of the TfL CS1 main cycle superhighway which was adjacent to the project and were the first contractor to adopt a carbon neutral innovation of using Cargo Bikes for plant hire and small deliveries. Almost 500 residents can see the site, so we looked for innovative solutions to flood lighting and became the first constriction company to use hydrogen flood lights which helps reduce excessive noise.

Thames Water sewer: Once we knew the exact positioning of the sewer we developed a detailed construction methodology, working with Thames Water to agree how the works would be constructed. This led to greater cost and programme certainty and the removal of the substantial provisional sums associated with the identified risks.




SME Spend


Added Value


Client Satisfaction

Client Testimonials

From the start, working with Morgan Sindall has been different. It has been a true collaboration and team effort to deliver this incredible new leisure centre and secondary school during a pandemic. Morgan Sindall have added real value at every stage of the project and their forward planning, focus on delivery, supply chain and genuine interest in minimising the impact of the construction process on the local community has been exemplary. This has included great local communication and building strong local partnerships from mobilisation through construction and into the final handover. After a very difficult year, I am so proud of what we have achieved with Morgan Sindall in delivering the biggest public sector investment in Shoreditch and Hackney in a generation.

A critical part of the Britannia Development for the Council has always been the social value that could also be delivered as part of the project. This has always felt like a key focus for Morgan Sindall as well – they have delivered excellent outcomes on apprenticeships, mentoring and work placements. However, they have also gone further, working hard on sustainability through initiatives like the use of cargo bikes and developing important links with local charities, community groups and schools throughout the project. Morgan Sindall are certainly one of the best contractors we have worked in partnership with in terms of delivering social value outcomes.

Simply one of the finest schools & educational environments, not just in Hackney, but in the country. State of the art, spacious, designed with the community in mind and ready to serve Hoxton, Shoreditch & Hackney.

Contractor Performance | Commitments


Winner of Building’s Award for Delivering Social Value

Hackney’s Apprentice Employer of the Year

Hosted a Wheels for Wellbeing best practice site visit as part of ongoing commitment with TfL and Streetscene to ensure the site boundary was easily accessible for all pedestrian users. Wheels for Wellbeing focus is wheelchair cycling and ensuring cycle lanes are adequate to allow inclusion for all.

Project team hosted local forums and drop-in sessions at 5 local schools in advance of works starting so they could understand the logistics and opportunities for schools engagement as well as local residents’ forum.

Partnership created with Shoreditch Trust addressing inequality and supporting people who are facing life and health problems. This included sponsorship of an Elders Feast.

Hosted CIOB virtual site tours during Covid 19 pandemic to inspire more people into construction

Sponsored Hackney Council’s virtual quiz night raising money for Hackney Foodbank

Hosted two visits from 9 SEND students to aid their transition from their old school site to the new constructed school

Hosted two site visits for K10 (local shared apprenticeship provider) for 27 students to give them much needed experience resulting in 6 work experience placements

Attended Women in Construction career seminar, speed interviews and mentoring programme

Attended a number of Hackney Works initiatives supporting local residents finding work

Created two “Paws Stations” for local daily dog walkers against the site hoarding

161 beneficiaries

64 new jobs created (39 previously unemployed and 19 live in Borough of Hackney)

34 Apprentices – 8 lived in Hackney, 18 enrolled in new apprenticeships on this project and 9 now directly employed by the company they worked for

1,096 trainee weeks

1001+ student engagement events

Schools engagement: xx students

£48,500 donations to charity

822 volunteer hours

47 No of SMEs

£2.11 average LM3

£78m social value created


97% waste diverted from landfill

100% timber responsibly sourced

BREEAM Outstanding

Natural ventilation and user controls maximisedTrialled cargo bike deliveries on the project making full use of TfL’s Cycle Super Highway adjacent to the project to capture industry best practice of zero emissions method of transport and resulting in 17.1kg CO2/km saving per week. We are one of the only construction sites using this type of delivery and installed a cargo bikes loading area – the first in the country!

First use of hydrogen flood lights in construction

110 trees planted doubling the previous number

Wood chippings from removed trees retained by Hackney Council’s ground maintenance team and felled trees donated to Shoreditch Adventure Playground as climbing frames and seating

Reusable water bottles which can be clipped to a belt issued to all site operatives


CCS Score 45/45

Collaborated with TfL’s Cycle Super Highway and Hackney Council Street scene by taking part in an environmental walk to agree construction logistics, review traffic routes and ensure cyclists enjoyed passing the project throughout construction. All traffic Marshalls completed TfL’s Elite Marshal training.

Nominated for TfL Transport Awards through collaboration with TfL and Hackney Highways team


Soft landings for handover
Dedicated Morgan Sindall point of contact
On-line portal for notifying any defects with 3 priority categories for response times


100% payment within 30 days terms

SCF Framework Manager

James Wright 


Phone: 07761 330560

Contractor Framework Manager

Alan Smedley


Phone: 07967 686066