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Sea container sports hall, Dunraven School, Streatham, London

“… a building that would have cost £2.25 million had it been built by conventional methods has been realised for £1.5 million … SCABAL’s real achievement is that it has produced a building as exotic and engaging as you could hope to realise on twice the budget.”

Ellis Woodman, Building Design, Thursday 11th June 2009

This sports hall designed for Dunraven School in the London Borough of Lambeth is the first to be built in this way anywhere in the world. We have used thirty sea containers as both structure and internal accommodation to create an extremely simple and cost effective building that captures the participatory excitement of sports. A multi-purpose community facility that gives the school the best indoor sporting environment they could wish for, “so much more than a boring shed” whilst staying well within the local authority’s strict budget constraint.

The glazing, using an immediately recognisable back garden motif: the greenhouse; continued internally with the trowel, the wheelbarrow and watering cans, allows the hall, providing glimpses of activity within the Hall from the outside, connecting the building with the outside – qualities too often lacking in the ubiquitous brick box Sports Hall.

The carefully considered orientation of the building with the north elevation comprising a careful arrangement of translucent polycarbonate panels and clear glazing and the arrangement of the ‘greenhouses’ with the internal openings in the galleries, all allow the interior to be flooded with natural daylight without interference form direct sunlight. This also makes the space suitable for exams, assemblies and other events.

At night, when the Hall becomes available for community use as a sports facility or a multi-purpose hall, this composition of openings makes the street frontage of the building glow while the lit-up window shapes around the sides further animate the form.

This project has led SCABAL to design variations of sea container sports halls in China, Norway, India (under construction), USA and Nigeria.

Service: Architects

Location: Streatham, London

Client: London Borough of Lambeth and Dunraven School

Cost: 1.6m (approx. £1,300/ m2)

Areas: 1,200 m2 Three-storey sports hall building: 1,200 m2, Full-height 4 court (18m x 33m) hall: 600 m2, Ground floor girls and boys changing rooms: 150 m2, First floor gym and viewing gallery: 230 m2, Second floor viewing gallery without fit-out: 220 m2

Dates:  November 2008 – March 2009; on site for less than 3 months

Contract: Design and Build DB2007

Energy: BREEAM Very Good


Winner BCIA 2009 – Small Building Project Award

Finalist BCIA 2009 Prime Minister’s Award – Better Public Building

Highly Commended 2010 BCSE Awards – Best Sport and Play Environment

Finalist 2010 Building Awards – Public Building Project of the Year

Shortlisted 2010 RICS Awards – Category Sustainability

Shortlisted RIBA London Awards 2010 – RIBA London Building of the Year Award


Contemporary Green Prefab, Industrialized & Kit Architecture, Instituto Monsa de Ediciones, 2012

Plan Magazine, March 2010

The Telegraph, Telegraph Review, 13 June 2009

Building Design, 12 June 2009

Living in a box presented by Maxwell Hutchinson, Inside Out, BBC1, 18 February 2009

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