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Building the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead

Our architectural and engineering expertise were critical in delivering this real snow centre in Hertfordshire.

At the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead our architectural and engineering expertise were critical to the delivery of some of the best real snow indoor skiing and snowboarding facilities in the UK.

Completed in just 12 months, The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire offers visitors the thrills and spills of real snow skiing. The centre provides a 160m main run and a 100m nursery slope within an 8,000m2 ski box, with the main run starting 32m above the building’s ground floor level at a pitch of 15 degrees. 

Alongside the ski facilities, visitors can watch the action from the comfort of the centre’s spacious bar and restaurant, part of the building’s three storey ‘warm side’ which also features retail space and changing and ski hire areas.  

Specialist refrigeration equipment is used to create a cold environment, while state-of-the-art snow guns provide a pristine piste on slopes flanked by images of alpine peaks.  

To avoid any danger of heave caused by freezing on the slope below the floor slab, heating pipes were embedded in a light layer of concrete to maintain a constant temperature in the surrounding ground. 

Much of the building sits three to four metres into the ground, reducing its impact on the landscape. This meant moving huge amounts of earth, the majority of which was reused on site.  

The building is covered in a mixture of timber rain screen and coloured cladding, while a green roof provides a sustainable drainage solution, reducing water wastage and preventing surges to the drains. 

Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead

    • Client: Snow Centre Ltd
    • Sector: Leisure
    • Value: £18m
    • Location: Midlands
    • Service: McAlpine Design Group
    • Completion date: March 2009

McAlpine Design Group was responsible for the architectural, civil and structural design of the centre which was configured to suit the site’s existing slope. Our design involved the careful selection of sustainable materials and a site layout which dramatically reduced the amount of spoil which was removed.  

This is the third real snow indoor ski facility we have constructed and builds on our experience at Xscape in Milton Keynes and Chill Factore in Manchester. 

As well as using our in-house expertise on these projects, the scheme also benefitted from the use of proven suppliers employed on previous projects. 

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