When the University of the West of England’s (UWE) Centre for Sport decided to upgrade its changing areas it wanted the same style of provision – only different.
The existing lockers were fitted when the Centre opened a decade ago and were showing their age. Doors were missing and sharp edges were starting to cause health and safety issues.
“We wanted a new feel and a new floor but with the same kind of provision,” explains Laurence Gully, who came into the post as the Centre’s Operations Manager for Estates and Facilities 15 months ago.
As the largest education provider in the South-west of England, UWE attracts a large student contingent – 10,000 at its Frenchay Campus, north of Bristol, alone and more than 4,000 of those in accommodation there.
Still only 30, Laurence knows the demands that such a large site can place on the operations function. “I’d managed a large facility before so had experience of how something as extensive as Frenchay Campus works,” he adds.
The Centre hosts hockey, squash and a number of indoor sports in a leading edge double sports hall. A large part of the 50 student sports teams use the facilities for training and competition, while alongside this, the Centre runs a state-of-the-art members gym and a strength and conditioning hub.
“As well as the outdoor use, some 3,000 students, lots of staff and corporate and community members come to the gym so our changing rooms are rammed.”
The locker specification process began two years ago under a larger branding plan for the Centre that embraced a refreshed colour palette to identify different areas of provision.
Anxious to ensure the new provision met member needs and expectations, Laurence sourced feedback from the last user survey then canvassed a cross-section of customers for their preferences.
He approached a spread of suppliers for quotes but bespoke furniture manufacturer Crown Sports Lockers were the standout choice.
“We asked for the same look as before and other suppliers produced plans for more of the same. Only Crown offered a different take on things. Their project manager, Spencer Grimwood thought outside the box to create more floor space so easing circulation round the rooms.”
“We picked up the red and black theme of the University logo in the lockers but on paper I wondered if the plans were right,” Laurence confides, “but once in place, it all worked really well,” he adds.
The scheme was confirmed a year ago but Crown “was already thinking ahead”, says Laurence. “We preferred traditional pound coin locking rather than digital so they ensured that all the lockers took the new pound coin as well as the old one. That proved really helpful as we do not have to worry about converting the locks when the old coins cease to be legal tender.
“Also, people tend to leave things in their locker for some time while they use the Astroturf or other indoor facilities and it gives them peace of mind to know they have their locker key with them.”
Crown fitted a total of 45 two-tier lockers in both male and female changing rooms. Solid oak timber slat seating mounted on stainless steel legs complete a finely appointed and finished fitout, along with hardwearing non-slip vinyl flooring.
“The lockers are sizeable enough to hang clothes,” adds Laurence – “many members use the gym before work so they have to store suits, shirts and so on – although we decided against shelving as valuables such as mobile phones as these tend to stay with the individual.”
Installation of the male and female provision took up just 10 days of the overall six-week project. “Crown’s installation team had the product in and out very quickly, arriving early and working late to complete everything ahead of schedule. They certainly knew what they were doing.”
Laurence’s top tip
“Aim for the best specification you can within your budget because you want the provision to last and customers will notice the difference in quality.”