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Freman College


Freman College are proud to call themselves a unique establishment and so naturally, when it came to building a new sports facility, the brief was to create a state of the art facility bespoke to their every need.

Since the college  opened in the 1970’s the population of the college  has more than doubled, so clearly the existing internal sports facilities which consisted of a single court gym and use of the main  hall for overflow had been significantly outgrown.  The  leadership team were constantly faced with  the problematic situation of  trying to timetable  120 students to take part in PE lessons with the knowledge that the unreliable UK weather often ruled out the use of external playing areas not to mention the issues that the exam period brought into the equation.

Sam Allan, Business Manager at Freman College was tasked with researching and presenting feasible solutions for a new sports facility to the board of governors. 

With a firm brief from the PE Department requesting a minimum of 4 courts, Sam wasn’t really sure where to start looking but thought google would point her in the right direction…and it did!  The search returned options on both traditional style buildings and tensile structures, Sam followed up with meetings and site visits to both types of buildings to see what their budget would buy them, it didn’t take long to realise that for Freman College, the Challenger structure, from Lancashire based company Collinson plc , was by far the superior solution and to their great delight  was coming in within their budget.

Sam, the Deputy Head and the Heads of PE visited two Collinson projects, William Edwards Centre of Excellence for Badminton during the build phase and Stanground College’s new Challenger sports facility which was up and running. The visits demonstrated the versatility in design of the tensile structures. They  were  impressed with the high curved ceilings achieved by the steel superstructure and the ability to integrate equipment storage rooms into the building was a hit; but the amount of natural daylight which flooded in through the tensile membrane was the icing on the cake, they came away from the visits full of ideas and inspiration for their new facility.

Having liked what they’d seen from Collinson, Sam decided to undertake some research before finally placing the order with Collinson, she contacted many of the schools from the site reference list starting with the very first sports facility dating back ten years and was overwhelmed with the recommendations from all the schools, with not a negative comment to be heard. This sealed the deal, the order was placed with Collinson on a principal contractor basis and meetings with the design team commenced.

The Challenger sports structure system is based on a clear span, steel superstructure which requires minimal foundations and can be quickly erected. This modular system is renowned for its efficiency, the frame is covered with a tensioned PVC membrane. The College opted for a white roof which allows light to permeate the building, flooding the courts with natural light, giving the effect of playing outdoors without the weather implications!

With funding for new sports facilities having dried up, the budget was tight, the majority of the money for the new facility was being raised by the College.   Funding had also been secured from the Government for 2 new classrooms so it seemed the ideal solution to integrate the two projects, Collinson confirmed it was possible and came up with a design. 

“We were so impressed by the design team, they tailored our facility bespoke to our every need. They shared their experience to offer new possibilities that we hadn’t even considered” said  Sam

The completed facility includes a four court multi sports facility marked out for basketball, cricket nets, five-a-side football, volleyball, badminton and futsal ; integrated changing and shower facilities to enable external sporting groups of all ages to use the facility out of school hours ; a fitness suite ;  four PE classrooms which will be utilised for the sole use of theory based PE lessons ; two ICT suites,; equipment storage areas ; a spectator zone and an office.

Dan Collinson, Managing Director of Collinson plc said “With each new project we embark on, we take forward new and exciting ideas that we are proud to share, at Freman College the integration of the classrooms into the sports facility really proves the versatility of our tensile structures”

The facility was officially opened by a long standing teacher Janette Wood, MBE  on 8th May, Staff and students are delighted to have the sports facility on site; membership and interest in extra curricular activities has reached an all time high. The local community are equally thrilled to have this new indoor facility on their doorstep.

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