• Leys Pools and Leisure Centre, Oxford

    This project involved fitting out a new pool extension to the Leisure Centre at Blackbird Leys. Flexibility and energy efficiency were key requirements, the council wished to retrospectively upgrade all the existing electrical systems whilst readying the Centre for future add-ons such as photovoltaic cells and a combined heating and power plant.

    Leys Pools and Leisure Centre, Oxford


Public safety paramount: Fitting out an extension to a working Leisure Centre demanded careful planning and public segregation. It was not only the new works that Darke & Taylor (D&T) had to manage, but also upgrades to the existing electrical systems, all undertaken to a very tight timescale without compromising public safety or affecting any of the critical services provided by the Centre.

Thinking from the client’s perspective: Installing lighting over swimming pools is a tricky job; the simplest solution is an ugly (but functional) overhead gantry. However, the council desired an easily maintainable yet aesthetically pleasing solution.

Future-proofing energy needs: The council was waiting for a solar energy grant, but did not have the necessary funds to proceed at the time of the fit-out.


Darke & Taylor’s experience and dedicated Health & Safety resource: This was vital to the scheduling and safe methods of work on the project. The mains changeover was scheduled for out-of-hours, which required pinpoint timing and coordination in order to align with the closure of other facilities that were being replaced with this extension and redevelopment.

Low Maintenance, High Aesthetics: D&T struck upon the innovative solution of side lighting directed towards central overhanging faceted panels. These side pods reflected light back to the centre of the pool, which cut maintenance costs at a stroke whilst enhancing the overall look of the installation.

Solar solutions: D&T was able to add the Photovoltaic System (PV) after the original fit-out. Because this addition had been pre-planned, D&T was able to ensure it integrated seamlessly.


“From the outset, Darke & Taylor worked closely with the City Council to design a PV installation which has been operating successfully since its commissioning in 2014 and has reduced grid electricity consumption by around 100,000 kWh per year.”

Paul Spencer, Certified Energy Manager, Oxford City Council

Technical overview

D&T was responsible for the design, installation and commissioning of a range of low energy, safety and assistance technology at this regeneration project to create a new leisure centre with three pools and sports pavilion.

Technologies successfully implemented and integrated into the building include solar photovoltaics, low energy lighting, central battery emergency lighting system, visual and audio fire alarm system, security systems including CCTV, access control and public address system, induction loops and disabled alarms.

Project details

CLIENTOxford City Council
ARCHITECTFaulkner Browns

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