When ‘make do and mend’ doesn’t add up
When a pre-tender estimate of around £800,000 to repair and refurbish their existing cricket pavilion attracted tenders in the region of £1.2m, project leaders at Oundle School decided that there was little virtue in their original intention to make do and mend. They hoped that a more sustainable building could be procured for a similar figure, and invited five architects to participate in a design competition for a building that would also be an asset in the increasingly competitive bid for new students.
The existing building’s domestic character contributed little to its setting and, having been altered and extended, its footprint breached the outfield boundary. Its environmental footprint didn’t stack up either and it needed extensive repair. It also – less obviously – had a subtly unnerving orientation, being set five degrees off-axis with the all-important cricket square.
Our architectural response was unanimously selected by the jury, who were impressed by how such a simple form could consolidate all necessary accommodation into an efficient and well-planned building.
Occupying land close to the existing plot, the new pavilion takes a more commanding position. It also opens up views to and from the rugby pitches to the north, contributing much more to the school’s generous landscape of sports fields.
Arranged within an isosceles triangle, the solid base contains changing rooms, storage and plant rooms, framing a generous players lobby. The first floor places a large function room at its heart, flanked by a neatly planned kitchen, toilet and meeting rooms.
In cross-section this arrangement is fully expressed, with the base partially embedded in a grass bank, where teammates can recline before and after they bat. Above this, the function room is capped by a slim, sharply detailed roof, which shelters and shades the split-level balcony and terrace.
While efficient, functional and contemporary in language and expression, the pavilion extends the school’s 160-year cricketing heritage and is not only more sustainable in terms of the use of space and reduced energy demand, but also in terms of sustaining and prolonging the school’s valued sporting tradition.
All of this was achieved for just under a million pounds, a few hundred thousand pounds less than the planned refurbishment.
Photographs: Toby Knipping