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Sturgeon North unwraps Bradford park pavilion

Sturgeon North Architects has completed this pavilion within Bradford’s new £24 million City Park which officially opened last weekend (24 March)

The building overlooks the Gillespies-designed Mirror Pool and houses public toilets, a warden’s office, shop and the server room containing the computers that run the park’s fountains and light displays throughout the day.

Underneath the pavilion, a large basement houses the ‘vast watertank, pumps and filtration equipment, into which the Mirror Pool drains each night so that it can be cleaned ahead of the following day’s reuse’.

The Leeds-based practice has also designed the nearby timber and steel Norfolk Gardens bus canopy and worked on a temporary, economical ‘screen’ to seal the partially demolished former police headquarters next door.

Bradford’s new 2.4 ha park in front of the Grade I-listed, Victorian City Hall contains the largest city-centre water feature in the UK and stems from Will Alsop’s grander 2003 masterplan to flood part of the city centre.

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The architect’s view

The building curves, in both plan and section, in response to the elliptical forms of the Mirror Pool and surrounding planter beds, whilst encouraging movement around the perimeter of the building. The building sits at a change in level such that when viewed from Prince’s Way the green roof looks little more than another planter bed - the only distinction being the ribbon-like perimeter wall, hewn from Derbyshire gritstone.
The stone façade continues around to the front of the building, which emerges as the ground level falls, where a wide, rectangular cut in the curving masonry reveals the oak-lined entrance to the public toilets and the oak-glass curtain walling to the retail unit. The oak wraps all walls and continues deep into the building, providing a sense of natural warmth to the unheated toilets, which are further illuminated by large, brightly-coloured, central walls.

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Access to the basement areas are concealed within the oak walls and two large, slatted oak gates swing shut at night to provide security. The use of oak and stone contribute to the pavilion’s connection with the surrounding landscape, and to the Park’s wider aim of pulling some of Bradford’s surrounding countryside into the City.
The grass roof itself is fully accessible, with a ‘ha-ha’ walkway following the perimeter wall, rising towards the Pool to provide an elevated view of City Park. Out of the grass embankment rise five small Sessile Oak trees and four stainless steel shafts. Perforations at the top of the shafts, abstracted from a pixelated image of a Sessile Oak, vent the toilet spaces within the building as well as lightening the apparent mass of the steel. The trees will eventually grow to encompass the shafts.

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