Eton’s new Sports and Aquatics Centre was celebrated with the announcement of winners of the RIBA South Awards last week.

The building, affectionately known as Athens, was praised by the Royal Institute of British Architecture for its impressive construction and positive impact on the wider community.

The large facility – which was designed by Hopkins Architects and built on the site of the former outdoor pool – features a new 25m pool and a versatile four-court sports hall.

Accepting the award at the ceremony in Oxford was Eton’s Director of Development, Justin Nolan. He said: “Athens is already busy with a range of users, not only our boys but children from partnership schools as well.”

Currently, the Centre welcomes seven local state primary schools, with 646 swimmers receiving 12 weekly lessons. Slough School Sports Network has hosted 3 events here for their students, and other local sports clubs have regular use of the facilities. 

Jurors also commended the building’s commitment to accessibility, with the inclusion of a lift and moveable floor in the pool area for learners and disabled users.

A central link connects the two sporting spaces, flooding the structure with natural light and fresh air. A social and teaching space also overlooks both the pool and the sports hall.

The Centre has been mostly built out of timber – a durable and low maintenance material creates an interior that the RIBA Journal described as “calm and confident”.

Contractors GRAHAM overcame significant challenges to bring this project to life. Its location in the Eton Conservation Area and on green belt land demanded careful consideration of environmental impact and the preservation of historical heritage.

Eton was one of 11 winners at the Awards. Joining Athens in this category were Gort Scott’s design landscape design for St Hilda’s College, Oxford, and Purcell’s modern chapel extension at Radley College, Oxford.