The Carnival site is an important part of Wokingham Borough Council’s Town Centre Regeneration proposals. Part of the site is the new flagship Wokingham leisure centre and library complex – Carnival Hub.  The brief was to create a fantastic state-of-the-art facility that will regenerate the local area and public realm for the local community.

The multi-million-pound Carnival Hub community complex forms a significant part of the second and final phase of the Wokingham town centre regeneration vision to meet the evolving needs and preferences of residents and visitors. The heart of the site, which replaces an ageing 1990s building that was in need of constant repair, brings together an outstanding new leisure facility, a new library, and multi-use halls anticipated to increase the community’s involvement in cultural activities.

Design Approach

HLM worked closely with Wokingham Borough Council to help support its ambitions to reduce carbon emissions, maximise energy efficiency and lower operating costs.


Transforming the previously dark, oppressive and out of date atmosphere, the new leisure centre offers an appealing, light and airy space that is accessible to all. It features a six-lane 25m pool – with raised spectator seating along its entire length – as well as a teaching pool with moveable depth floor and a children’s splash pad with fountains and water jets. Designed in line with Sport England standards, the pools represent a transformational upgrade for both the local community and Wokingham’s swimming training and competition facilities.

The complex is the result of years of consultations with local residents and businesses to ensure that it aligned with what they hoped to see in a new leisure facility. In approaching the designs, HLM worked closely with Wokingham Borough Council to help support its ambitions to reduce carbon emissions, maximise energy efficiency and lower operating costs. Additional revisions included new air source heat pumps and solar panels, creating one of the UK’s most energy-efficient leisure centres and driving vastly improved performance across the site, which has achieved massive carbon reductions of 75% on the previous build,  surpassing government targets.

As well as an efficient design, the actual in use performance of the building is reviewed using the data collected by the Building Monitoring System (BMS). This system provides monthly updates on the building energy usage and provides with live carbon emissions. Thus, encouraging carbon emissions as a building performance metric for the operators and other stakeholders throughout the lifecycle of the building.

The Hub co-locates leisure, fitness, community and library facilities in one centralised location and is key to the regeneration of Wokingham centre.

Accessibility and inclusivity were key drivers alongside being highly sustainable. The Hub provides a community-enhancing space for people of all ages, including spa facilities for all members and mixed-use halls which are intended to be used for performance as well as sporting events.

Our landscape team have designed a fabulous public realm which integrates the Hub with the wider site and provides a varied outdoor space which is accessible to all.

Claire Wakelin, HLM London Studio Director said: “It’s exciting to see this fantastic project come to life after 18 months of works. The flagship new leisure centre and library complex in the centre of Wokingham will regenerate the local area and public realm, creating a new focal point for the community. A major design objective for us was to deliver an exceptional, sustainable and modern facility within the vibrant Carnival Hub for residents and visitors to enjoy for years to come. The centre provides an enhanced offering and a welcoming environment where people can have fun, recharge, and where sporting fans can train and compete. Importantly, it is designed with flexibility in mind to accommodate the wide range of needs and activities of the local area, also incorporating a large space for cultural use.”

"This is a really exciting moment for the residents of Wokingham Borough, who have been waiting patiently for this state of the art leisure facility to open its door in the heart of the town. The new centre has something for everyone regardless of your age or fitness levels; and I hope it will exceed everyone’s expectations."

Cllr Ian Shenton, executive member for environment, sport and leisure, Wokingham Borough Council

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