Isthmus

Real good sports.
Barry Curtis Pavillion.

Approach

The standalone changing room on the fringe of a sports field is the traditional approach to providing facilities for organised sports – but what if a new building could leverage off established landscape and neighbourhood connections, include public space that goes beyond the needs of teams, and meets the wider recreational needs of a growing community?

In a short few decades, the number of recreational activities New Zealanders participate in has jumped upwards. There are still the classics, of course, rugby, netball, football and cricket, but visit any urban open space and you’ll encounter basketball, skateboarding, tai chi, Frisbee golf, and parkour. And that’s just the start.

Today’s recreational areas are more than just Saturday morning sports destinations; they’re also a place for everything from family picnics and sausage sizzles through to cultural festivals, wedding photos and markets. At Barry Curtis Park you’ll find an approach to sports amenity design that caters to recreational evolution with an adaptable and robust pavilion and a plaza that is also an anchor and visual marker for the park’s southern end. This design is not just grounded within the context of its place – it’s designed to adapt to a growing community whose future needs are not yet fully known.

The pavilion really is unmissable; it’s a bright orange beacon designed to orientate anyone within the expanse of the park interior. It is the result of a ‘less-is-more’ approach to the brief; a de-scaling from large clubroom (which would mostly be unused, except on weekends) into a smaller pavilion integrated with a sheltered plaza, a design that thrives in the overlap of architecture and landscape.

Isthmus’s involvement at Barry Curtis Park dates back to the design of the original masterplan in the early 2000s. The park was planned as a hard-working piece of suburban and green infrastructure that is comprised of ‘nests’ of smaller parks, each with varied functions. At the southern end, sports fields integrate with sculpted landforms and waterways, and connect to recreation trails and John Walker Promenade, which circumnavigates the perimeter. It is here that the new pavilion and plaza are located.

Functionally, the pavilion accommodates spaces for sports event management, and provides teams with bathrooms, storage and changing rooms. In addition the building draws in community users and is flexible enough meet varied needs. It establishes a finer grain to transition between the vast park and the surrounding suburbs, between nearby homes and the park’s networks of paths, fields, playgrounds and wetlands.

The mandate for the plaza was the outcome of a discussion about ways to encourage continual community use. Previous experience shows that community rooms are often underutilised, and that the provision of a cafe can be a stereotypical response that is difficult to justify. The design team and client envisioned a space that was open-source and adaptable – plug and play rather than predetermined in use. Instead of a single cafe, the plaza can host multiple food trucks or scale back to host a simple sausage sizzle or coffee cart.

Two contrasting zones accommodate the many possibilities of use: the first, on the western edge, is open to allow food truck movement; the second area hugs the pavilion’s corrugated wall, providing the scattered arrangements of large, timber-formed concrete and hardwood seating with respite from the cold southwesterly winds. A stepped terrace to the north meet the formal pedestrian axis and provide a venue for team talks and the terrace also neatly folds into a ‘soft-fall’ ramp to allow eager players in sprigged boots a speedy exit from the changing rooms. To the south, tree-lined park entranceways framed in corten steel pull visitors in from the suburban edge.

Team Members
Andrew Mirams, Travis Wooller, Travis McGee, Grant Bailey, Alex Foxon,
Past Team Members

John Broadbent
Adelle Hammond

Client
Auckland City Council

Contractor
Cassidy Construction