Main ContractorBowmer & Kirkland
ArchitectHolder Mathias
Structural EngineerPeter Brett Associates
LocationWoburn Forest, Bedford


To construct a sub-tropical swimming paradise in line with Center Parcs' sustainability ethos.

The Results

An imposing structure that fits in with the local environment. Center Parcs' swimming paradise houses a huge variety of leisure facilities and is the centerpiece of the park itself.

About The Project

Bowmer & Kirkland were appointed by Center Parcs to build the leisure buildings and facilities at Woburn Forest, including the innovative Subtropical Swimming Paradise. The vision for the build was for it to reflect and underpin Center Parcs’ commitment to protecting the natural environment. The leisure village, situated in a spectacular coniferous plantation wood near Woburn, is a ‘Center Parcs for the future.’

The Brief

Sustainability was the key priority of the construction brief. Center Parcs states Woburn Forest is the company’s most sustainable village to date, consuming 25% less energy than the company’s average leisure village.

The brief was timber engineering on a grand scale and the perfect unification of modern sustainable construction and nature. The use of 3D Building Information Modelling (BIM) ensured accuracy, which was vital as the tolerances on the glulam beam interaction with the concrete buttresses were an exacting 2mm.

The Solution

The glulam beams, each 23m long, made a 960 mile journey from just outside Vienna in Austria, where they are manufactured, to Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire. It took construction workers 12 weeks to assemble the glulam into place in order to create the clam-shape. The fabrication of the largest main beams took 195 man hours each and overall glulam beam construction required 50 workers in total.

The optimised hybrid structure forms the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, with a series of six arches along the length, culminating in a radial arrangement of a further glulam arch at one end, forming a dome. A glulam low-level roof was constructed with curved steel fittings to concrete buttress style columns.

Using timber from sustainable sources and offering PEFC or FSC® certified Full Chain of Custody, in line with Center Parcs’ environmental ethos, the first challenge for B&K Structures was creating the clear spans to provide both the right aesthetic of the structure, as well as generating the load-bearing capability to support the overlying roof structure. The next was the challenge of creating the wide spans as the pieces were joined in situ as the structure formed.

The highlight of the build was managing to achieve a clear 70m span with glulam beams - a first for B&K Structures and a first in the UK. For B&K Structures the project has been further evidence of a growing environmentally conscious construction market, which can be optimised in terms of timescales and budget.

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