General information

  • Location address
    Sandgate, Kent
  • Location country
    United Kingdom
  • Year of construction
  • Name of the client/building owner
    Saga Group Ltd.
  • Function of building
    Multipurpose halls
  • Degree of enclosure
    Hybrid structure
  • Climatic zone
    Temperate - cold winters and mild summers
  • Primary function of the tensile structure
    • Daylight gains
    • Rain protection
    • Wind protection


Office building & amenity building with canteen, meeting rooms & gymnasium. Amenity building has large PTFE/glass membrane panels tensioned between slender steel arches.

The Saga Group commissioned us to prepare a Masterplan for the phased development of their 28 acre steeply wooded seaside site at Sandgate near Folkestone for their new Group Headquarters.

The principal office buildings were designed to provide a naturally ventilated environment with low energy usage throughout its life. The main ground floor area is the workroom, accommodating the telesales area within a single large volume. The support offices are contained within the rear block which has five floors of office accommodation. The south elevation of the office building is constructed with a climate wall to give a buffer against the prevailing weather conditions and act as a conservatory space to the office proper.

The separate amenity building houses the training areas, a nursery, kitchen and restaurant areas as well as providing a large hall for private and public functions. The building consists of a large fabric covered central hall orientated towards the sea with side blocks of accommodation on the east and west elevations.

Description of the environmental conditions

Low energy design as thermal mass keeps the offices comfortable & cuts fuel bills.

The 11ha wooded site, falling steeply from clifftop to sea, gives panoramic views over the Channel and has direct contact with the elemental forces of earth, air and water.

Electric infra-red radiant heaters mounted at high level above the side blocks provide an instantaneous ?top-up? of heat to meet demand on the coldest winter day.
Natural wind driven infiltration provides an adequate ventilation rate in winter.
Perimeter trench heating beneath the end wall glazing offsets some of the fabric losses in support of the underfloor heating.
Underfloor heating provides the base heating requirement, stabilises the internal environment, the cold radiant effect of the fabric roof.

The central hall is naturally ventilated in summer and mid season through large areas of openable doors and vents at very high level within the glazeline.

General comments, links

RIBA Journal /1999
The Architects Journal

Material of the cover

  • Cable-net/Fabric/Hybrid/Foil
  • Type (code)
  • Material Fabric/Foil
  • Material coating
  • Weight (g/m2)

Main dimensions and form

  • Covered surface (m2)
  • Maximum height (m)
  • Total length (m)
  • Total width (m)
  • Form single element
  • Form entire structure

Duration of use

  • Temporary or permanent structure
  • Design lifespan in years

Involved companies