Where Old Meets New at Thames Lido

Residing alongside the River Thames in Reading is the site of the King’s Meadow swimming pool. It originally opened in 1902 as the Ladies Swimming Baths and is the oldest outdoor public pool from the early Edwardian era in existence. However, over time it fell into a state of disrepair and, following its closure in 1974, has been left unused for over 40 years.

Renewed interest in the site came in 2004 when it was awarded Grade II listed building status, and a £3.5million project began in 2013 to restore it. The new site opened in 2017 as the Thames Lido, and incorporates a new swimming pool, spa, restaurant, bar and event space; and importantly, whilst the facilities have been completely modernised, the design itself has retained the appearance and theme of the old building. According to the Reading Civic Society, “Great care has been taken to restore original features or to replicate them where necessary. The additions to provide the spa treatment rooms at first floor level, and the restaurant areas, have been created in a modern style but in a way which complements the building.”

The main attraction of the site its 25m outdoor heated swimming pool, which was built by BOS Leisure inside the existing pool shell to carry the original shape and features through to the new design; this method also prevented damage to the building’s foundations, which could have been destroyed if the existing pool was removed.

Appointed for the tiling was Profix Ltd, who sought specification advice from ARDEX following a history of successful joint projects including the David Lloyd Leisure Clubs and Hinkley Leisure Centre swimming pools.

A thorough process was followed from start to finish. Firstly, Adam Willmott, Business Development Manager for ARDEX UK, conducted an initial site visit to determine the requirements of the works, including any product performance attributes that would assist the contractors. From this, he produced a detailed product and application specification, recommending a specialist swimming pool tiling system with fast drying properties to assist with the exterior working conditions:

  • ARDEX A 38 Ultra Rapid Drying Internal and External Screed Cement
  • ARDEX E 100 Additive for Bonding Slurry Grouts
  • ARDEX AM 100 Rapid Hardening One Coat Tiling Render
  • ARDEX S 7 PLUS Flexible Waterproof Coating for Swimming Pools
  • ARDEX MICROTEC X 77 Flexible Wall and Floor Tile Adhesive
  • ARDEX S 21 Rapid Hardening Floor Tile Bedding Mortar
  • ARDEX-FLEX FL Rapid Setting Flexible Tile Grout

Following any ARDEX specification, training and demonstrations are available to fixers to ensure they are familiarised with the products before starting the works; however, as Profix Ltd was well acquainted with the system from previous contracts, they could proceed based on the specification alone. Even so, Adam conducted several site visits throughout the project, and after its completion, to ensure the application went as planned and assist with any queries the contractors had.

For the client, the quality of finish was their most important priority, and the combination of the products specified, support provided at all stages of the project and technical capabilities of the contractors, meant the swimming pool was finished to their high standards. In addition, although speed wasn’t a leading factor for the contractors, the fast-drying properties of the tiling system not only meant the works weren’t as susceptible to the adverse effects of weather in the exterior working conditions, but also kept the entire project moving along at a pace acceptable to the customer.

Speaking about the works, Greg Paclawski of Profix Ltd said: “This was a truly unique project, and it gives me immense pride not only to have worked on it, but to have also produced a beautiful end-result for the customer. It was great to be a part of the team that saved this building, especially after it had been closed for such a long time, and create something that will now be used for years to come.

“Quality was of the highest importance and there would have been no cutting back at the expense of the finish. That’s why we chose to work with ARDEX, because you can’t get any better than them; their products, technical advice and site support are unparalleled.

“I’d like to personally thank Adam for his help on this project, as he is great to work with and is always on hand to help; as well as Andrew Grove at Euxton Tiles, whose professionalism and reliability in supplying the fixing products were second-to-none.”

ARDEX Return for V & A Museum Expansion

Two years after being specified for the V & A Museum’s interior flooring refurbishment, ARDEX were back this summer to be a part of its £53.5million expansion. Its largest in 100 years, the project created an extra 6,400m2 of gallery and entrance spacing to serve the 3.3million visitors that the iconic London venue receives every year.

Sitting above this new area is one of the project’s most impressive features, a brand new courtyard for the museum visitors and its café-goers to use, as well as further space to display sculptures and artworks. Covering the 1200m2 area are over 14,000 handmade porcelain tiles, which were installed by Stonewest using the following ARDEX products:

  • ARDEX A 38 Ultra Rapid Drying Cement for Internal & External Screeds
  • ARDEX A 38 MIX Pre-Blended Ultra Rapid Drying Cement for Internal & External Screeds
  • ARDEX MICROTEC X 77 Flexible Wall & Floor Tile Adhesive
  • ARDEX MICROTEC X 78 Flexible Semi-Pourable Floor Tile Adhesive
  • ARDEX DGR Degreaser
  • ARDEX R 3 E Moisture Tolerant Epoxy Primer
  • ARDEX Fine Aggregate

Len Sales, Project Manager from Stonewest, explains why he chose to work with ARDEX for this prestigious development: “Prior to starting the project, it was important for me to understand the products we’d be using, so ARDEX arranged for me to see a demonstration of ARDEX A 38 being laid. This categorically proved that its rapid drying qualities would be the key to us maintaining our programme timings, and would allow the tiling contractor to continue their work as quickly as possible. For fixing the tiles, we chose ARDEX MICROTEC X 77 and ARDEX MICROTEC X 78 due to their 3 hour pot lives; and with its semi-pourable consistency, ARDEX MICROTEC X 78 was particularly effective for solidly bedding the large format porcelain tiles we were installing.”

Commenting on his involvement in the project, Paul Forrester, Business Development Manager for ARDEX, said: “The architects, AL_A, were already aware of our screeding and tiling experience through our work with London Underground and Crossrail, and initially approached us for this project back in 2012.

“Following our meetings, we put forward ARDEX A 38 for the screed because it would meet the demanding requirement of the project, namely its suitability for external use; its shrinkage-compensated formulation which minimises the risk of cracking; its high compressive strength which could bear the expected loadings; and, above all, its ultra-rapid drying characteristics which would allow tilers and other trades access and workability as soon as possible.

“For the next stage, we recommended ARDEX MICROTEC Tile Adhesives. Their long open times and pot lives gave the fixer time to position the tiles in the intricate layout required, whilst avoiding costly waste of unused adhesive.

“With over 30 years’ experience of projects with similarly demanding site requirements, we were able to take our knowledge and proven products to develop a specification that gave all parties confidence from concept through to completion.”

Glasgow Club Scotstoun Refurbishment

Glasgow Club Scotstoun is one of the biggest leisure facilities in the city, and it recently received a £750,000 refurbishment. A key part of the Scotstoun Sport Campus, originally built for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, is its 25m swimming pool, which is integral to the site and is very popular amongst visitors.

However, damage began to appear over the last 12 months with tiles coming loose and falling off. Underwater repairs were commissioned, but the problems continued and so the pool was deemed beyond economical repair. AquaTilers were contracted in to carry out a complete refurbishment, working with ARDEX for guidance on the correct product specification and application.

Following a site assessment by Andrew Reid, National Business Development Manager for ARDEX UK, the following products were specified and used throughout the project:

  • ARDEX A 38 Ultra Rapid Drying Cement for Internal & External Screeds
  • ARDEX AM 100 Fast Track Tiling Render
  • ARDEX MICROTEC X 77 Flexible Wall & Floor Tile Adhesive
  • ARDEX-FLEX FL Rapid Setting Flexible Tile Grout
  • ARDEX EG 8 PLUS Epoxide Tile Grout & Adhesive

Commenting on the project, Asa Taylor from AquaTilers said, “I’ve been refurbishing swimming pools for 20 years and have always used ARDEX, because the reliability of their products means I can offer a 7 year guarantee on my work, as opposed to the 12 month industry standard.”

Speaking about his involvement in the refurbishment, Andrew Reid added, “ARDEX have been used in countless swimming pools across the country, and our products provide a reliable solution for both contractors and their clients. This project will be yet another example of this reputation, and we were delighted to work with AquaTilers, Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council to offer a long-lasting system solution.”

Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

ARDEX are regularly relied upon by the NHS to deliver cost efficient, performance led flooring solutions for their varied locations throughout the UK, whether it be for hospitals, clinics, or laboratories. One such project saw ARDEX team up with flooring contractor, PCS Flooring of Merseyside, to help complete the extensive new build project at the University Hospital Aintree.

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North Manchester General Hospital

North Manchester General Hospital recently underwent a refurbishment of their busy Accident & Emergency department. In order to fulfil the exacting flooring requirements of this demanding environment, the hospital drew upon the proven track record of ARDEX and flooring contractor, PCS Flooring of Formby, Merseyside, to ensure that the specific flooring needs could be met.

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Peterborough Regional College

ARDEX were pleased to utilise their experience within the education sector by providing the ideal refurbishment solution for Peterborough Regional College. Each year the College welcomes around 3,500 full time and 12,000 part time students through its gates, encompassing the widest range of courses in the Greater Peterborough area.

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Mearns Castle High School

Mearns Castle High School, situated on the outskirts of Glasgow, was founded and built in 1978. The institution seeks to provide a safe, inclusive and high quality learning environment to its 1,352 students and 122 staff, and has been ranked 3rd in a recent Scottish State School of the Year award.

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V & A Gets Artistic Renovation

Home to the world’s largest collection of decorative arts and design, with a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects, the Victoria and Albert museum is one the most iconic attractions in London and the UK.

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St George’s Court

Located in Central London at the heart of New Oxford Street, and within walking distance of Covent Garden and the West End, St George’s Court is an iconic London building. Used for both residential and commercial purposes, the building, finished in the 1940s, has an impressive history and was the London Head Quarters of the Ministry of Defence.

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The Savoy Hotel

ARDEX UK were delighted to work in partnership with Mega Marble Limited, one of the UK’s leading specialist fabricators and installers of Natural Stone and Quartz, to assist with the completion of the vast £220m restoration of London’s iconic Savoy hotel.

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