You don’t have to look too far to find the inspiration for the zigzagging walls of Sam Crawford Architects’ Queens Park sports pavilion in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, instead just look around.
The serrated leaf of the banksia serrata, a plant that was widespread amongst the region, is located close to the site.
“Public and sporting communities now have a functional, safe, accessible and light-filled facility. There are dedicated men’s, women’s and accessible bathrooms and change rooms, umpire facilities and storage spaces,” says Sam Crawford.
“We referenced the banksia leaves with zigzagging (or serrated) brick walls to provide connection to the historical and ongoing ecology of Queens Park. One of two remnant and rehabilitation areas of the once widespread Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub is opposite the pavilion. The park’s native vegetation was largely cleared by 1930.”
“We pinched the building in at both ends to reduce the sense of overall mass and add depth to the facade. These pinched setbacks also create a separate sheltered area for spectators and members of the public at each end, something that was missing in the previous outdated amenities block.”
“We designed a central covered area in the middle to provide a sheltered meeting/sign in space for sports teams. It also breaks down the building’s mass and facilitates an accessible, connected walkway from street to sports fields. Connecting the two frontages, it also allows views through the building from the street to the parklands. A raised floating skillion roof is cantilevered upwards towards the fields and also allows cross views of the park from the street.”
Translucent fibreglass and perforated wire mesh over a steel frame characterises the durable roof, while providing natural light and ventilation. An alternating brick pattern of stretcher bond and extruded Flemish bond adds texture and interest, whilst hit and miss brickwork allows connection and natural ventilation. Eco-concrete and recycled blackbutt timber benches extend the robust palette to the interior.
“We needed to manage the flow of cyclists and walkers with sportspeople and spectators on the shared pathway between the building and sporting fields. So we created a 70-metre long artwork on the pavement that references the colours and form of the banksia, and draws attention to the pedestrian zone,” Crawford says.
“We have designed quite a few sports pavilions and amenities buildings over the years. Each one presents unique challenges particular to site and setting. All have high public usage, so both the design and materiality has to be incredibly robust. In Queens Park, there are teenagers with football boots, parents with prams, and cyclists with bikes, all interacting at this one point.
“We aim to make a connection between the design and the local context - the people or the landscape, the history or the geography - something that is precious or endangered. Highlighting the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub – an endangered ecological community that was once ubiquitous across the sandy stretches of the Eastern Suburbs - is a reference that may not be read by all, and yet the building form is specific to that place and seems to fit naturally within the park.”