Why an MEP engineer is a crucial part of a swimming pool design team

Why an MEP engineer is a crucial part of a swimming pool design team

It was many years ago now, but the £34 million Clissold Leisure Centre in Hackney has gone down in history as one of the most spectacular MEP disasters of all time. The leisure centre – although undoubtedly an impressive building – just didn’t work. The catalogue of faults was extensive, including points such as “roof sweating with condensation”, “glass walls around pools retain fetid water”, and all-around poor ventilation.

There are various complex political reasons why it came to this at Clissold. However, when talking about swimming pool design in general, there can be a strong temptation to go for style over substance. Certainly, you may have an Instagram-worthy vision, but is the design going to work?

This is especially the case for indoor pools, which here in the UK, are far more common. In these environments, MEP is crucial. Here, we’ll look at why MEP and swimming pool design go hand-in-hand.

Get the strategic advice you need

Good design just isn’t good design if it neglects all the practicalities. This is especially the case when it comes to swimming pool design. This doesn’t just include the body of water itself, it extends throughout the entire facility. For example, service areas need to be strategically placed; a relaxation area isn’t going to be very relaxing if it’s near the extraction.

An experienced MEP designer will have a holistic approach to how key mechanical elements are placed in the building. They’ll have the know-how to assess whether or not components will obstruct each other, or indeed, obstruct the comfort of building users. This expertise goes well beyond the fitting of equipment provided by, say, a regular plumber.

Manage moisture

Naturally, an adequately heated indoor pool will be a humid environment. This is why in a leisure facility you need to make sure the gym and pool area are sufficiently separated. Sure, a mezzanine area gym overlooking a pool might seem nice aesthetically, but the humidity will damage the equipment, not to mention making it too hot for gym users.

Moisture will not only impact how the pool area is used, but it will also dictate the building materials and decoration. This includes the flooring, joinery, tiles, paint finishes, and furniture. As demonstrated by the lifting floors in the Clissold Leisure Centre, failing to assess whether materials can withstand variations in temperature and humidity can lead to serious problems later.

MEP design will be crucial to ensuring humidity levels are manageable. A bit of moisture around an indoor swimming pool is inevitable, but with the right HVAC, you can make sure it’s not problematic. Moreover, this isn’t just about keeping the interior finishes in good condition – it’s about users’ health. Mould can grow in moist environments, so it’s essential it’s kept under control.

Have the right team from the outset

There are a lot of different elements involved in swimming pool design, so it stands to reason that various specialists need to be drafted in. That may mean an architect, a swimming pool designer, a structural engineer and an interior designer, as well as a construction contractor – and last but by certainly no means least, an MEP engineer.

Having the right team is essential. Make sure you assemble all the experts at the beginning, to mitigate any issue down the line. An MEP engineer is vital to evaluating the potential for upsets such as those found at Clissold Leisure Centre, so make sure you contract a consultant for your pool project.



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