Building on National Trust Land – Working in the Dry


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BUILDING ON NATIONAL TRUST LAND
Heathcoat Cricket Club, Tiverton, Devon

WORKING IN THE DRY

See this Cricket pavilion built from storm damaged trees on ITV Westcountry.

itv article heathcoat cricket club

In the previous blog, we expressed our excitement and appreciation for the manner in which the traditional structure has been formed. But, now that the flesh has been applied to the bones of the building the final form is really taking shape.

National Trust Land - Heathcoat Cricket Club

Interior spaces and rooms are starting to take on their finished scale. The club is now starting to take ownership of what it is going to deliver cricket from the site.

National Trust Land - Heathcoat Cricket Club

The overriding feeling is one of excitement and satisfaction that no compromises have been made with any of the internal spaces. The size of the bar and kitchen are much more appropriate for the various different activities that the club generates through the previous building. The clubroom itself is twice the size and yet because the beautiful beamed roof structure the previous atmosphere and intimacy is still in evidence.

National Trust Land - Heathcoat Cricket Club

Most importantly the whole ground will be visible from any position of the bar and clubroom whereas previously if you sat at either end only half the ground would be visible. Club members here already have been reported as having staked a claim for one position at the bar or other. From a programme point of view, the project is a couple of days ahead of schedule which is a remarkable achievement considering the horrendous weather conditions which is down in part to several influencing factors. The design process has been well-coordinated and precise, the commitment of all those working on its construction has been ensured as many of those employed on the project are club members and cashflow has been maintained thanks to the ECB’s quick turnaround of grant valuations.

National Trust Land - Heathcoat Cricket Club

The club are now focusing on a final funding drive to ensure that the new clubhouse opens, it will boast new furniture and fittings rather than need to re-use the old stoned furnishings. If you would like to learn more or contribute towards this project and help the final push then please contact Andy Macdonald on 0203 397 2227.

National Trust Land - Heathcoat Cricket Club

How the clubhouse is expected to look

Building on National Trust Land – A Stunning Building Begins to Emerge


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BUILDING ON NATIONAL TRUST LAND
Heathcoat Cricket Club, Tiverton, Devon

A STUNNING BUILDING BEGINS TO EMERGE

With a final push just before Christmas the building fabricators Wooden Ways erected all of the timber structure. It soon became apparent that this was going to be very much more than just a sporting clubhouse. The sheer size of the main timber flitch beams and main posts as well as the beautiful roof structure will ensure that this will became a landmark project for both the National Trust and the ECB. But, most importantly, its size and scale sits beautifully within the Knightshayes ground.

National Trust Land - Heathcoat Cricket Club construction - 1

It is always interesting to first view a structure as it starts to come alive but for all those who attended the pre-Christmas site meeting it was genuinely exhilarating. The representation from the National Trust were enthused and delighted by the presence the building already has. The materials that have been used and the traditional skills and standards of craftsmanship that had been employed.

National Trust Land - Heathcoat Cricket Club construction - 2

The interior clubroom space with the exposed beams and roof structure will be dramatic enough but the large uninterrupted visitors of their ground and the stunning Devon countryside which is a backdrop to the ground, will make this one of the finest cricket viewing experiences in this country. Heathcoat has always been a wonderful ground to play at and it will now have a clubhouse that will be worthy of the location.

National Trust Land - Heathcoat Cricket Club construction - 2

Macdonald Design have worked on the creation of many sports buildings but they do end up being quite formulaic employing the use of standard building materials and generating interest through careful use of detail. But, to be involved working with very natural products cut and shaped in a traditional way is incredibly exciting. The mix of natural twists in the traditional beams link to the precision cutting and interlocking of the structure reminds you of the skills that were honed over centuries before the days of mass production and building systems. Such is the strength of the core structure it was able to self-support without needing to employ screws, bolts, glue or any additional braces.

National Trust Land - Heathcoat Cricket Club construction - 4

Building on National Trust Land – Procurement and Project Implementation


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BUILDING ON NATIONAL TRUST LAND
Heathcoat Cricket Club, Tiverton, Devon

PROCUREMENT AND PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION

Following successful planning and National Trust approval, Heathcoat C.C., led by Chairman John Smith, reviewed the best ways of procuring and constructing their new clubhouse within the tight budget that they had available. This building would need to retain its iconic status within the Knightshayes National Trust site whilst being built as economically as possible on National Trust Land.

Planning and the National Trust had given their approval to a timber frame building that would match the existing building as closely as possible whilst conforming to the stringent design guidelines set by crickets governing body the ECB.

Heathcoat CC Existing clubhouse constructed in 1928

During the early procurement stage various timber frame companies were approached to provide their estimated costs for building such a building. However the project really made significant progress when the National Trust approached the club to offer an alternative timber solution to the modular timber frame companies that the club had previously been negotiating with. The Trust, in order to make a contribution to the project, volunteered to provide the timber that would form the structural shell of the building. The timber would be cut from felled trees from the Estate at Knightshayes itself. Whilst providing the timber at a far reduced cost this technique would also recreate the process behind the construction of the existing clubhouse in 1928. The timber would be cut and machined by a local wood yard to mirror, as faithfully as possible, the techniques and existing detailing thereby providing a beautiful tribute to the craftsmanship and the building that had served the club for so many years.

Having now established this principle, the club acted as the main contractor and appointed sub-contractors to undertake the various elements of the project. As a result, in early September 2012, Macdonald Design and the project team assembled with representatives of the National Trust and the appointed contractors to organize the programming for the new clubhouse construction. The construction team was now ready!

The next key stage was to pin down and confirm the building detailing in sufficient detailing to be able to establish firm and fixed costs and an achievable programme.

building on national trust land - Macdonald Design Ltd

Visual of how the clubhouse will look upon completion

Working closely together, a timber fabrication company (Wooden Ways), the structural engineer (Paul Squibbs), the local Building Control officer and Macdonald Design formed a design team to take the various traditional construction processes and hone them into a building that would secure the approval of Building Control, National Trust and the ECB. Having achieved this, a cost plan was generated that married in with the budget set by the funding bodies, ECB and Viridor.

To augment the commercial supply element a host of local professionals, tradesmen and suppliers pledged their support for the project. Many of these provided their time and/or products either free of charge or in lieu of some other benefit like club membership etc.

With projects of this type, the key is to tap into the community aspect especially when constructing a building that will provide the focus for a large number of sporting and social activities for a wide cross section of the local public. In this way, it helps return clubs to their traditional place at the very heart of their community.

Building on National Trust Land – Groundworks and First Phase Construction


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BUILDING ON NATIONAL TRUST LAND
Heathcoat Cricket Club, Tiverton, Devon

GROUNDWORKS AND FIRST PHASE CONSTRUCTION

With work starting in October the target handover was set to be April 1st  2013. As you can see from the attached images, the ground works are now very much underway. As well as the clubhouse works, the club are also committed to providing extensive car parking which will be used not only for the cricketers but also visitors to the estate and the activities that will now be generated adjacent to the clubhouse (dog shows, fayres etc).

Extensive groundworks being preparedExtensive groundworks being undertaken to provide new car parking

Any site of such antiquity is beholding to respect the archeological heritage and the club is required to work closely with an archeological specialist who has had to inspect all of these excavations. The club also appreciate the need to ensure that potential artifacts are either not disturbed or if they are located then they have to be carefully removed and documented.

The National Trust have taken an active part in both the design process and they also need to ensure that the construction process does causes damage in the long-term, is safe for the public and the Estate’s livestock. The Trust’s Architect’s Panel have taken a particularly keen interest in the building and they are excited about the design and see it as a potential landmark and iconic design that can be used as an example for future National Trust projects.

In terms of the clubhouse, the foundations have now been formed with blocks in place and built up ready for the floor beam delivery.

Foundations formed with blocks in place

Foundations formed with blocks in place

Offsite, virtually all of the National Trust timber has been cut and machined from the forests and is ready for assembly with just the trusses to be machined. Pictures of the timber below show the work done by Dan Franklin and his team.

Photos of the National Trust being cut and machined to form the structure of the new clubhouse

The main car park has been leveled; drainage runs are installed with a binding course laid in proportion for a top finish which will be laid at the completion of the construction work. Building Control have inspected phase 1 and are happy. Full design stage approval is subject to agreement of only minor interior detailing.

National Trust timber being cut

National Trust timber being cut by Wooden Ways to form the structure of the new clubhouse

Building on National Trust Land – Getting Design Approval


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BUILDING ON NATIONAL TRUST LAND
Heathcoat Cricket Club, Tiverton, Devon

GETTING DESIGN APPROVAL

The original clubhouse, which was constructed in 1928 in the beautiful grounds of the National Trust Property at Knightshayes near Tiverton had been added to at various intervals over the intervening 80 years. In 2008 a proposal was put to the National Trust Panel to replace the building and a contemporary design was promoted. At this time the Trust requested the production of a condition survey to justify the replacement rather refurbishment of the existing. This was done and proved conclusively that the building was virtually unusable. Furthermore the funding providers (primarily the Cricket Governing Body the ECB) had confirmed that were not willing to provide any funding at all for a building with limited, or no, long term sustainability.

the beautiful grounds - Macdonald Design Ltd

The beautiful grounds at Knightshayes

The usage for the pavilion had also radically changed over the period of its life. When first constructed the requirement was for a building suitable for two teams to change in, eat tea and be supported by several spectators. This has now been supplanted by the needs of a very dynamic and thriving cricket club playing in Devon Cricket’s Premier Division, supporting over 80 senior players, 220 junior members and their parents and families and is regarded as a very community focused operation. In addition the ground is so picturesque 12 touring teams are accommodated each season (it could be many more) and five Devon County fixtures, one of which is a two day game are played at the ground. On these days over 80 people have to be fed both lunches and teas.

the dilapidated old structure
The picturesque but dilapidated existing pavilion

Any bid for funding, via the Devon Cricket Board to the ECB will take into account the Focus Club status of the club, their delivery responsibilities under this agreement, minimum ground and building criteria set by the Devon Premier League and the minimum technical standards set out by the ECB in their Technical Standards Guidance (TS5).

The previous design did take much of this into account and the allocated spaces, whilst predating the introduction of the TS5 document, anticipated their needs well. However in the opinion of the Trust the contemporary nature of the proposed building, its position and its overall scale were not deemed acceptable or appropriate. This scheme was withdrawn and the club looked to produce a more traditional response.

Macdonald Design were contacted by the club who had noted the companies’ work on two ECB National Showcase Clubs at Ashtead C.C. and Chipstead C.C. and having met the project team they were appointed to deliver the revised concept that reflected the existing construction and design style and be in keeping with the Knightshayes traditional landscape. The overall scale of the proposed building has been dictated by two major considerations. Firstly the actual numbers who are using the facility and secondary the statutory requirements of both the ECB and the Devon Premier League. The new proposal conforms to all TS5 requirements and the size and viewing flexibility of the new clubroom supports the hugely expanded membership and community usage

Other activities are also centred around the building including the annual Blue Cross Dog Charity Day, Horse Shows and other Trust led activities. The proposed building would be seen by the club as a facility that can be fully utilised by the National Trust and the club are keen to work with the management team at Knightshayes to develop mutually delivered events and programmes.

The new project team immediately contacted various representatives from both the National Trust and the Local Authority with a view to working harmoniously to produce an appropriate design and would also incorporate sensitive approaches to protection of livestock and car parking overflow.

The construction materials recommended for the roof provoked the most discussion. However the key principle for the project team to consider was a very practical one first and foremost. The roof be subject to damage on a very regular basis from cricket balls. As a result a traditional roof slate is totally inappropriate as any ball landing directly on them will split or smash the slate tile. As a result an almost continuous maintenance/replacement operation is required. The project team reviewed the installation of a thatched roof but felt that the legacy of very high ongoing maintenance cost would leave an unfair burden. Sedam was reviewed but not with enthusiasm.

new pavilion - Macdonald Design Ltd
The new pavilion

One solution would be to use a Decra metal tiled system which is impervious to damage but the National Trust panel were concerned that the tile would not ‘weather’ at the same rate as the rest of the building. Consequently a rubber Dynaslate tile was selected that does attract lichen and algae and having been formed from, amongst other things, old mobile phones, was extremely sustainable!

Macdonald Design had proposed using National Ltd who had recently completed the outstanding projects at Ashtead and Chipstead but in a further twist the National Trust offered the use of timber cut from the grounds of Knightshayes and they would supply it free of charge. Using a local timber frame contractor the project team have developed an outstanding building with a truly unique story – a new pavilion, designed to meet contemporary needs but constructed using centuries old techniques using timber which had been growing on the site for over 100 years!

The project has now been approved by the National Trust, has Planning Permission and Building Control approval and is fully funded. The project costing nearly £500,000 commenced on 12th September and will be completed by the end of March 2013.

Steve Macdonald is Principal of Macdonald Design Ltd who are specialist Sports Building Architecture and Sports Development Consultants. They are based in Surrey but work nationally and are accredited consultants who work closely with all of the major Governing Bodies.