The many roles of the cricket pavilion embraced and combined in one kind design
Remember when you were more easily led, behind the cricket pavilion and the bicycle shed
– Pet Shop Boys, ‘Can You Forgive Her?’
As Neil Tennant's lyrics suggest, the cricket pavilion is a building type rich in cultural meaning and home to a surprising number of activities - not all of them to do with cricket. In the popular imagination, cricket pavilions exist within a mythology of Englishness alongside the sound of leather on willow and crumpets for tea. But they are also humble, utilitarian buildings that play an important if minor key civic role.
Typically, a pavilion is a small, freestanding structure, sometimes related to a larger more important building and often associated with pleasure. Most of the time, pavilions aren’t intended to do anything more demanding than stand around looking pretty. Cricket pavilions on the other hand are functional buildings whose charm comes from the straightforward, unpretentious way that they go about their business.
They can vary in size and complexity, often not being much more than a simple shed containing a room for getting changed or storing equipment. Larger ones can include a bar, upon which the shed becomes a clubhouse. Sometimes they incorporate signage too in the form of a clock or the match scoreboard. They might even grow seats or bleachers, mutating into a hybrid building that is part pavilion, part grandstand and part sports infrastructure.
A cricket pavilion is a social space where players and spectators meet and where on match days teas and refreshments are dished out. Out of season and during the evenings they invite other more illicit activities, providing the ideal spot for a teenage snog or a cheeky cigarette away from censorious adult eyes. They are seasonal too; boarded-up for security in winter and opening up in summer after being treated to a fresh lick of paint.
There is also the question of the pavilion’s relationship to the landscape. They sit on the boundary to one edge of the cricket pitch, surveying the field of play in the way that a country house might overlook its grounds. Despite their diminutive scale they have an importance that confers something close to grandeur.
Our Ordinary cricket pavilion plays with these qualities. It expresses its various functions as directly as possible: a mono-pitched shed fronted by a shaded veranda from which to watch the match. Above this and supported on timber columns, the front of the pavilion grows to incorporate an oversized scoreboard. Pace Venturi, our pavilion could be described as a bill-ding board, the scale of the sign relating more to the size of the pitch than the little pavilion that supports it.
This pavilion also contains another important function: you can stay in it. During the winter months it operates as a holiday cottage providing an additional source of revenue for the cricket club. A square-paned window thus interrupts the scoreboard, acting as an incongruous domestic intrusion into the composition. As well as recording the cricket scores, the big sign communicates the price of a cup of tea in summer or room rates in winter. In addition, its edge is profiled to suggest a mash-up of domestic and civic building types.
Internally a mezzanine sleeping-platform behind the window serves as a third bedroom as well as providing a suitably lofty perch for the scorer to watch the game. It is clad inside in plywood, stained white like a pair of cricket trousers. Specially shaped alcoves are CNC-cut from the ply, forming display spaces for cups and trophies. The club’s regalia thus become an integral part of the decoration. More pragmatically, the bar becomes the kitchen, the changing rooms are repurposed as bedrooms and the lounge area becomes a comfortable sitting room with views across the pitch to the landscape beyond. Views out the back are limited to allow privacy for the activities of the easily led.
The pavilion's various programmes - house, sign, shed, bar - are expressed as individual visual signifiers that have been recombined into an ambiguous whole. It is intended as a humble building that communicates its social, civic and – occasionally – domestic role in a way that both respects and extends the typology it is derived from.