The benefits of using glulam frames in swimming pools



Over the years Buckland has created several structures for leisure centres, particularly for buildings that house swimming pools, both commercial and private. 

Of course, we are always going to champion glulam, but in the case of a swimming pool, there are many reasons why glulam is an excellent choice. 

Firstly, we must mention aesthetics. Glulam as a material is lighter, brighter, and tends to have a warmer feel, which compliments the coolness of the water and tends to make the area feel more relaxing and welcoming.

In particular, though glulam performs better against the corrosive atmosphere in a pool compared with other materials – the chemicals, chlorine in the water attacks the surface of whatever your frame is made of, and glulam tends to hold up much better than say steel against corrosion (this is a similar story in locations by the sea as the sea salt cause similar problem – you can read more about glulam vs steel here).

Last but by no means least, the sustainability of a project is increasingly at the forefront of the agenda when commissioning a new build. Knowing that your building materials come from a sustainable source helps to support the sustainability agenda, and is often a criterion for raising funding for larger builds.

Here are a few example pool projects:

Moelfryn Bach

This project was a portal frame for a private residence in Wales. The building was created on the grounds of the home using spruce glulam to create a curved frame to house the new swimming pool.

Engineer  Roger Casey Associates
Architect  Iwan Thomas
Size  Approximately 14 x 9 square metres.
Cost (Approx 2016)  £200 per sq metre.

Moelfryn Bach

The Jubilee Pool – Hillingdon, Middlesex

This project was a single-storey framework designed to enclose a school’s existing swimming pool.

The combination of Spruce and Cedar, although different in tone and grain definition when used together complement each other very well to form a very dramatic, naturally comfortable space. The pool is now protected from the elements and is a much more luxurious space for the pupils to use and enjoy.

Architect  Mark Baldwin
Size  10x20m
Cost (Approx 2014)  £150 per square metre – for engineering design and manufacture.



3. Chanter’s Pool – Ottery St Mary, Devon

This project was a private commission for a bespoke glulam framework for a swimming pool.

The initial design included a lot of stainless-steel connectors. With a little engineering scrutiny and some fine-tuning, these were removed and integrated instead with 60mm thick glulam tongue and groove to create a roof structure, with the underside left exposed as part of the internal timber aesthetic – alongside exposed vertical framework and roof beams.

Architect  MIME Architects, London and Bristol
Size  approx 20x8m
Cost (Approx 2017)  £120 per square metre for engineering design and manufacture.


    4. Saint John’s School – Leatherhead, Surrey

    At Saint John’s School, the roof structure is built on an industrial scale. But due to the material qualities of the glulam construction, it is exposed, celebrated and has become part of the fabric and personality of the building.

    Throughout the project, structural fixings are hidden beneath the face of the glulam beams. Industrial sized glulam columns support straight glulam roof trusses interwoven with galvanised, diagonal bracing,

    Engineer  Elliot Wood, London
    Architect  Faulkner Browns, Newcastle
    Size  20x40m
    Cost (approx 2019) £200 per square metre – for engineering design, manufacture and installation.

      St Jonh's School - Leatherhead, Surrey


      If you have a commercial or residential pool project you’d like to discuss please get in touch.