Cambridge-based architects Samskara had to meet a challenging brief with a new building that, at an internal floor area of 380m2, was only half the size of the old building, yet was required to be a building of note – ‘significant and sustainable’ and capable of engaging the community, with access to a number of sports. Low in maintenance and efficient to run, the new building must sit well on the open site.
Samskara responded with a contemporary single-storey design that illustrates sustainable credentials throughout. Built around a timber frame, clad externally in cream linear brickwork, the building is topped by an extravagant inverted pitch roof structure that overhangs the building on all sides to provide protection and prevent unauthorized access onto the structure – a key requirement of the client brief.
Purposely chosen to be erected quickly, the timber frame design allowed the brick outer skin to be constructed much later in the build programme, accommodating the brick’s lead time, and taking this crucial element off the critical path. This avoided any possible build delays and enabled the specialist contractors to achieve facades of exceptional quality and precision.
Ibstock’s Linear Natural Cream bricks provide a stunning contrast to the dark grey plinth and roof covering, sitting the building sympathetically alongside the surrounding architecture. The long, narrow bricks enhance the linear aspect of the building, being laid immaculately in stack bonded format to add a unique and distinctive structure to the facades. Samskara specified and detailed the four available brick lengths to co-ordinate the elevations and fit the building perfectly, without cutting, to maintain the ‘engineered’ appearance of the elevations.
This technical aspect of the plan form, combining linear format with a repeated transverse structure, was determined with reference the England and Wales Cricket Board, Football Foundation and Sports Council recommended planning guidelines, and met the client’s desire for a flexible structure, capable of accommodating the addition of changing rooms or expanded facilities in the future.
Externally, subtle design details, such as a hand-shake above the entrance, sight screens on the facades and stumps and bails of the main façade, ensure that the building reflects the sports it serves, whilst internally, a thoughtful layout, with changing facilities deliberately separated from public/spectator spaces, a security lobby and ramped disabled and wheelchair access throughout the building, make it the perfect backdrop against which to rebuild Ransomes’ former sporting reputation.