"Kensington Oval Barbados"
Designer(s): Project Leader: Dipesh Patel Architects / Urban Designers: Kevin Owens, James Ward, Lindsay Johnson, Mike Kinney, Smita Khanna , Mike Dodd, David Parsons, Jake Armitage; Mechanical: Alan Ross, Others John Edgar, Carl Collins, Glen Carney, Bill Tuerena; Structural: Joanne Larmour, Andrew Robertson, Tim Worsfold; PH: Mike Dodd, United Kingdom
Category: Architecture Categories, Professional
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The decision to redevelop Kensington Oval rather than moving to a new site was agreed unanimously by the client following our study and presentation to the Prime Minister of Barbados. The wider regeneration benefits to Bridgetown and the legendary status of the existing ground was critical. Our design has transformed the area from a derelict semi-industrial zone back to an integral part of Bridgetown. We have raised the visibility of the Oval with a contemporary building that addresses local climate and character, while passive and active devices are utilised to reduce energy and water consumption. Our design was instrumental in Barbados successfully securing the Final match. Bajans are extremely proud of the new ground and it was applauded during the tournament by visitors, cricketers and the world media. The Observer newspaper’s Vic Marks agreed stating that we had “… striven to retain the feel of the old Oval. And they seem to have succeeded.” (18.02.07)
Clarity of organisation, from site planning to building planning
Both the masterplan and site plan are founded on a desire to make the natural movement of people comfortable and safe. Events held at the venue demonstrate that the new Oval is easy to find, simple to enter and clear to move around.
Kensington Oval was redeveloped in the spirit of the original ground; this was importantly a ‘collection of stands’ not a stadium. The order of the original Kensington was unclear with the most important stand (members pavilion behind the wicket) not apparent; while other locations had large out of scale stands. We have reordered this hierarchy so the main stand, The 3Ws, is a major marker, defining the image and axis of the ground whilst the players’ pavilion (Sobers pavilion) is smaller in scale but made significant by its position and separation.
Expression and representation + Appropriateness of architectural ambition
The West Indies were unbeaten at the Oval for over sixty years. The new Oval has the civic prominence its status merits and is now accessed from a major road.
Integrity and honesty + Architectural language
The grounds are designed to allow spectators to watch cricket in shaded but well-lit seating, with good views and air flow. The architecture of long cantilever roofs, louvres, gills and diffuse lighting devices reflects this.
The masterplan has regenerated a deprived area and raised the civic status of the ground. Once seated the comfort of the individual is maximised through environmental comfort, tactile materials and by retaining the old magic of the ground.
Conformity and contrast
Our proposal seeks to make the Oval part of a set of modern world class cricket grounds, while remaining local and retaining the atmosphere of the old ground. At the 2007 Cricket world cup and since the world media, players and spectators agree we had achieved this difficult balance.
Orientation, prospect and aspect
As with all stadia and cricket grounds, we had to address this issue in terms of pitch orientation to spectator comfort. Our design is grounded in optimising this as well as media coverage and player excellence.
Detailing and materials
Addressing factors of climate, local technology and cost, our approach sort to maximise the use of locally available concrete, masonry, timber and minimise expensive elements and those susceptible to corrosion. As a result, the majority of the stand structure is a concrete frame clad in rendered block. Only the roof and main ‘box’ structure are steel with aluminium cladding, necessitated by the large cantilever and hurricane wind loads.
The complex form of the curved box was rationalised to minimise the number of differing panels and we worked with a UK cladding specialist to develop a system that would be cost effective and easy to install in Barbados. This resulted in an innovative faced fixed panel that could be efficiently packed for shipping. This new system has a modern, yet hand-made quality that reflects the building ethos of the island.
Structure, environmental services and energy use + Sustainability
The 3W’s Pavilion combines reinforced concrete for the primary structural frame with lightweight steel framing for the large cantilever roof canopy. This is provided by beam and column moment frames in both directions, which give a uniform ductile response to seismic loading whilst maintaining unobstructed sightlines and concourses by avoiding walls and cores.
We have promoted a natural ventilation approach to all VIP and corporate entertainment spaces. The President’s Suite in the centre of the 3Ws on the top floor, is a double height space shaded by the large roof cantilever, louvres on the rear and an open front to the field of play. The client greatly enjoys this comfortable space with the intimate connection to the seated area in front. The smaller corporate boxes adopt a similar approach; the field elevation has an openable glazed screen with louvers, allowing the option of installing air-conditioning. To date of the 46 boxes at ground less than 5 box holders have installed air-conditioning.
Water consumption is key with the field of play requiring irrigation, while portable water is limited. A combined approach of rainwater harvesting and brackish water-resistant grass is utilised to ensure portable water is not used for field irrigation.
Flexibility and adaptability
The ground is designed to be a world-class cricket ground, although we made arrangements for football and concerts with both events proven to be successfully hosted. To improve year-round use, the corporate boxes have provision for bathroom pods, creating the possibility of use as ‘hotel’ rooms, allowing the ground to act as a training venue.
Barbados has no legislation in relation to inclusive design. Against a backdrop of significant cost and programme pressure we are proud that we persuaded the client to adopt the highest standards (UK) of inclusive design.
Barbados competed with other Caribbean islands to host the final with our design cited by the ICC as instrumental in their success. While the form evolves in response to climatic influences, it is deliberately a striking, beautiful object that all islanders and cricketers can identify.
About the Designer/Company
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