© Martin Donlin
© Martin Donlin


Falls Leisure Centre



Order Volume

450 m²


Ian McKnight von Kennedy Fitzgerald &





Building Type


Falls Leisure Centre

Belfast, Great Britain

A play of colours - The Falls Leisure Centre in Belfast is energy efficient and equipped with Light Diffusing Capillary Glazing by OKALUX

The location is very peculiar for a glasshouse. The new sports facility was erected directly on the “Peace Line” in Belfast, on the border between the nationalist and loyalist districts. With the Falls Leisure Centre by Ian McKnight the town council has chosen open architecture and a generous amount of glazing, consciously distancing itself from the reserved look of the concrete blocks usually built for public buildings. There was a definite decision not to erect a building that leaves an impression of defence which could possibly provoke already existing aggression as such. Up till now, it seems as though the decision has paid off, because unlike other municipal buildings, the sports facility has not been vandalised.

The citizens have accepted the facility as part of the community and, since its opening approx. one year ago, the number of visitors has continued to increase. The Falls Leisure Centre is equipped with a 25m pool, a sauna and a steam bath; in addition, there is a multiple purpose gymnasium with three courts and a large fitness room. There are also multiple purpose rooms as well as art and workrooms open to the public.



Against the background of often hastily erected concrete buildings in Downtown Belfast, the Falls Leisure Centre is a true eye catcher due to its precise shape and clear colour design. The mostly opaque-coloured curtain wall has been designed in the pastel colours of blue, pink and green. The glazing was coated with OKACOLOR by OKALUX, Marktheidenfeld/Germany. Four large skylights with a colourful light control system support the marked design of the building. Especially at night, the sports facility becomes a city landmark that can be seen miles away.

The Falls Leisure Centre has been built to be energy efficient and makes intensive use of daylight. A component in the energy concept is the double-glazing by OKALUX which contains a capillary inlay in the cavity. The numerous capillary tubes diffuse the sunlight softly into the facility and protect against blinding. The light transmission of the interlayer is very high, which means less energy needed for artificial lighting. The glazing can also be used to generate solar energy, for example, to heat the indoor swimming pool. The artificial lighting is controlled with daylight-dependent dimming systems. In addition to the daylight sensors in the indoor swimming pool and sports facility there are presence sensors, which also belong to the light control system. These sensors ensure that the lights are automatically switched off when there is no one in the rooms.

Energy-saving measures have been applied throughout the entire sports facility. An annual CO2 emission of a maximum of 120 kg per square metre and onsite energy production were goals strived for. As a result, a very exciting concept for sustainable building has been followed that is exemplary in its social dimensions as well as when it comes to saving energy.