An exciting and challenging retrofit events space featuring a specialist glass sports floor, one of only 3 in the UK, it revolutionises sports participation for autistic users and learners with specialist needs.



Portland College
Education - Further & Higher
Retrofit & Recladding

Portland College required a more flexible multi-use events space. The existing hall was a combination of small scale traditional sports hall, with a permanent fixed stage at one end that drastically reduced the usable space for sports and event uses.

The project sought to convert the existing hall into a combined sports hall and performance space by removing the stage, wing walls and existing floor; and installing a brand new cutting edge glass sports floor and a set of bleacher seating that can fold back into a recess at the back of the hall when it is in sports use. Improving the acoustics of the space, installing proper ventilation and underfloor heating were also key to the project. 


The glass sports floor has a modern hard wearing floor finish and safe sprung surface. Traditional sports floors have lots of coloured lines criss-crossing over each other and can be confusing for anyone, and in cases of autistic users, extremely challenging. The led sports solution allows for only a single court to be lit and shown at one time. The contrasting colour of the white LEDs and the dark grey surface enable the court to be clearly read by persons with limited sight. The floor is the 3rd sports hall floor of this kind to be installed.  

The lighting rigs are on an electric hoist so when changing from theatre mode to sports mode, the lights can be lowered and removed easily and placed in storage safely.

Two accessible changing rooms were also built in an old shop and toilet area to increase the provision of accessible changing spaces for the sports hall.


The condition and constraints of the existing building brought challenges and temporary support had to be used to enable the old stage wing walls to be safely removed and to prevent the outer walls from moving while the work was carried out. A new steel frame inserted in a vertical ring, enabled the stage area to be opened out to the same width as the main hall extending the usable hall space to a size that could fit a full size basketball court on.


The brief also included creating a corridor to the north side of the hall and converting an old music room into an activity space / classroom.  The existing cafe area has been upgraded & modernised to make the space less clinical. A new kitchen has been provided, designed to be used by pupils with a range of disabilities with height adjustable sinks and working areas.  The facilities allow the students to train in a commercial kitchen / cafe environment with equipment (coffee machines, toasters etc) akin to those you would expect in a branded coffee house, enabling pupils to transition smoothly into the workplace. One of Portland College’s programs is to assist pupils into the general workforce.


The upgrading included replacing the windows with new double glazed units, together with the upgraded and improved ventilation, acoustics and overall increase in useable space, the hall will provide the College with a modernised and efficient facility for years to come.