Major Refurbishment of Shower & Changing Areas

In April 2013, Ardler Community Complex, a council-run facility in the northern suburbs of Dundee, hosted a National Body Building Competition.   Specifically, it was an Open event for competitors from all over the UK – free from the silly rules and regulations normally associated with Federation-run body-building events. Their event attracted approximately 60 male and female competitors and around 500 spectators and was considered a resounding success. A small fly in the ointment, however, was the rather embarrassing state of the showers and changing areas at the Ardler Complex.   With aspirations to establish the Ardler Open Championship as an annual event in the body-building calendar, it was strongly felt that a major refurbishment of the shower and changing areas was a necessity.

The complex, which features two squash courts, a games hall with spectator gallery, dance studio, cardiovascular fitness room and a weights room, had periodically been upgraded over its operational lifespan, yet the shower and changing areas were original from when the Ardler Centre first opened, 38 years earlier in 1975. The grouped shower installation comprised exposed pipework runs, mechanical timed flow controls and fixed shower heads – not unlike the picture below. In addition, all the shower heads were mounted, for reasons unknown, at child height such that an adult male would need to crouch down to wash and rinse his hair while trying to squeeze under the shower so to avoid making contact with the user opposite! The female arrangement was not much better although formica dividers, typical of the era, separated each shower and a dirty plastic curtain provided privacy. Due to its age, the tiling on the walls looked tired and dirty; the grouting yellowing and blackening in places. It was a similar, grubby, story for the floor tiles, which sloped toward a central open gulley for drainage. Another aspect that needed to be addressed was accessibility for wheelchair users. Accessible only via a flight of stairs and with a difficult layout, neither facility could accommodate a wheelchair and this therefore needed to be addressed to comply with more recent DDA regulations.

A cost estimate for the refurbishment was determined to be £113,000 and an application for this sum was then lodged with Central Facilities Funding at the Council. The application was subsequently approved, although the amount of money offered fell somewhat short of the total requested.   Determined not to be thwarted, Ardler’s Local Management Group, a registered charity made up of Ardler’s management as well as local residents, embarked on a fundraising campaign to raise the shortfall. This done, Craig Nicholson, Architectural Technician at the Council was tasked with the redesign of the changing area – the brief being to create a facility that would make a strong statement and serve as the council’s ‘Flagship’ community venue.

As loyal Horne supporters, Dundee City Council was a high priority when it came to unveiling the new shower column design that became the Duŝo (pronounced Doosho, it means ‘shower’ in the constructed language of Esperanto). As soon as the animated product tour had been signed off, Ron Hutchison, our Sales Engineer for Scotland, pinged it over to his contact in Architectural Services – Richard Allen, Senior Building Services Engineer. Less than a week later, Craig made contact for more information about the Duŝo, specifically with a number of community centres in mind, including Ardler. Craig says that he was really taken with the aesthetics of the Duŝo, feeling that it was very appropriate design for the statement that they hoped to make. When it was first shown to the Local Management Group at Ardler there was great excitement and strong buy in – for its modern, attractive looks and functionality – in particular its one minute duration per actuation. Scott Rodgers, the Centre Manager, was thrilled to be offered such a nicely designed shower: ‘ I like its narrow shape and swan neck – it’s really nice!’

The refurbished facility comprises a communal wet-room for the gents with rubber flooring and 10 Duŝo columns mounted on ‘wet-wall’ cladding – no grouting required. The arrangement is staggered giving 6 showers on one wall and 4 on the other to allow maximum room for each user. The ladies showers occupy a similar sized area but showers are mounted on one wall only, separated into wet-wall cubicles with solid doors. A larger cubicle with outward opening door and accessible shower fittings – grab bars and seat – provides a shower area for less-able users.

Supply pipework to each Duŝo is via an elbow connection through the wall directly above the shower head, finished with a chrome plated collar. For aesthetical reasons, Craig was keen to have minimal exposed pipework and this was a logical configuration. The Duŝo shower design is relatively simple – it’s a timed flow controlled shower head that is supplied with pre-blended water from an upstream thermostatic mixing valve (TMV). A group thermostatic mixing valve can be used to supply a number of Duŝo shower heads, but Richard Allen, Craig and the Health and Safety team at the council elected to pair a Horne 15 TMV with each shower head. Justification for this was to minimise the mixed water deadleg for Legionella control purposes and also to ensure that if reactive maintenance was required on a TMV, then it would mean that only one shower head would be out of service. Of course, more mixing valves means it’s a bigger job when it comes to planned maintenance, but the teams agreed that under their own particular circumstances, the pros for this setup outweighed the cons.

From strip out to completion, the renovation took slightly over 2 months and progressed with no unforeseen problems. The facility reopened to the public on Monday 3rd March 2014 and has been in almost constant usage to date. Initial comments back from users has been extremely positive and Scott Rodgers and the Local Management Group are delighted with the result. “It’s absolutely brilliant! The showers look really smart, they’re in-keeping with the rest of the facility and they are positioned at a real adult height. The Duŝo also figures in the staff changing area so Scott also has firsthand experience of how the shower performs, “it’s great”, he enthuses. So pleased is Scott that he is already made suggestions to the manager at Dundee Ice Arena for them to duplicate the installation there.

Craig Nicholson is also extremely pleased with the outcome and positive responses from the Centre Management and the Local Management Group. The Chief Executive has also visited the facility to see the finished article himself. It is expected that Ardler will indeed become Dundee’s ‘flagship’ facility and will provide the blue print for similar planned refurbishments across the city.

With around 80 competitors signed up and an expected audience of 600+, Scott Rodgers is particularly looking forward to another Open championship, “Now we can be even more proud to host our 2nd Open Bodybuilding competition on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th April”, he said. We wish them well for a very successful event.



February 17, 2015


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