A Wall For All

December 8, 2021

Our recent entry for the Pavilion for All competition, titled 'A Wall for All'.

The Brief: '...organised by Argent Related and Barnet Council in association with the AJ the competition asked architects to create a net-zero design concept for a welcoming and inclusive sports and active play pavilion on Clitterhouse Playing Fields in Brent, north London.' Architects Journal, Online.

West Port's Introductory Piece: Our entry expanded the meaning of a wall beyond the rather archaic dictionary definitions allow. Rather, we see them as invitations to peoples’ imagination. In settlements around the world they facilitate play, activity, inspire creativity and offer respite and shelter. It is these positive, accessible and open characteristics of architecture’s most fundamental element we channelled in our proposal.

Conceptual Thinking: Derived from the term ‘clite, clay’, the walls of the Clitterhouse Farm structure were built for a very different purpose than our more welcoming interpretation of what a 'wall' is. Namely, to enclose and protect. In this way, the existing walls are divisive structures with a strong boundary to their context. We proposed to redress this defensive arrangement by ‘extending’ these walls into the fields and community. In doing so, turning their current language of yours and mine, to one of inclusion, accessibility and receptiveness. Words we believe capture the aspirations of play, sport and society today.

The project was to be made up from a series of rammed earth walls. To make the project as net-zero as possible, these would be formed from the geological sediments of the River Brent, nearby, and material from the ground excavations of neighbouring construction sites. These walls were planned to both house the practical requirements of the brief and to accommodate a series of free meanwhile activities to complement the more formal playing fields and courts.

Unfortunately we did not get shortlisted this time. However, the project was a fun exploration of the definition of the word 'wall' and it helped us generate a lot of valuable information on green building technologies. Particularly rammed earth construction and how much fun you can have with it! Many congratulations to the shortlisted teams! We look forward to seeing the winning scheme realised.

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