In keeping with the City’s ‘Wood First Policy’ initiative, the main feature of the new Guildford Aquatic Centre is the prefabricated wood truss system. The wood trusses provide both economical and unique solutions to the structural and operational requirements of the facility. The architect worked closely with the design-builder to create a pre-assembled truss with fully integrated lighting, mechanical services, and acoustic absorption. Twenty-two repeating 95’ long V-shaped trusses are made from CNC cut Laminated Strand Lumber panels, comprised structurally of glulam top and bottom chords, LSL webbing, and plywood deck. Inside the trusses are pre-installed mechanical ducts, sprinklers, up-lighting, and acoustic ceiling insulation. The trusses are designed particularly to enhance up-lighting, and built-in catwalks allow easy access.
The trusses were prefabricated and assembled in the shop with the services in place. This allowed both for the trusses to be built while the support structure was under construction and for rapid on-site erection with no scaffolding, thereby greatly reducing total time on site. The design approach taken by the team to use wood trusses has many benefits, among them corrosion resistance, ease of maintenance, as well as being a material that is renewable and sequesters carbon.
The natatorium is entirely lit by indirect lighting from the wooden trusses, so the interior walls were carefully selected with specific tint and gloss levels, in order to achieve the desired reflectivity. The continuous ribbon of skylights allows beams of sunlight to streak across the walls and move with the time of day, animating the natatorium.