A civic and social hub for a small village in Yorkshire, designed with local materials to stand the test of time. In collaboration with Edward Hutchison Landscape Architect
Like many rural villages in England, the sporting life of Sessay, just outside Thirsk, revolves around the cricket pitch. Sessay has a particularly high calibre team (they won the Village Cup at Lords in 2010), and a busy calendar of social events.
Our design for a new community hall and sports pavilion was runner-up in a competition organised by the RIBA, and its starting point was the idea of making a new, focal ‘village cluster’. The pavilion is home to the cricket and bowls clubs and, with the larger community hall, shelters a new market square onto which events can spill out on sunny days. From the square, a new footpath leads to the church and village school, enabling the hall to be used for games without the children walking along the main road.
The hall itself is a simple and dramatic, yet traditional form: a long house or tithe barn, eighty metres in length, set into the landscape against the background of the distant North Yorkshire Moors. The huge pitched roof is supported by scissor trusses, and uses familiar, locally-made tile and brick, sourced from within ten miles of the village, which would blend with the tones and textures of the original buildings and improve with age. Under this one roof, all the functions sit together on a single, accessible level. A cut-through in the middle creates a covered entrance between the community hall to one side and a flexible café and bar space to the other. It’s as suited to communal village activity as it is to grander celebrations and civic functions.
One of the highlights of the project was talking to the village residents – as well as the competition committee – about what they were hoping for from the scheme. We realised that our proposal needed to be ambitious but realistic, not just in terms of the budget, but also in reaching a design that the people of Sessay, whether seven or seventy, would feel was really theirs.