The design of the new Boathouse posed significant challenges for our architects. The building will sit on a flood plain within the green belt, and must therefore be both robust and have minimal visual impact in one of York’s most important open spaces. With public footpaths in close proximity, and no means of securing the perimeter of the grounds, the design must deter serious vandalism and be easy to maintain.
Their solution addresses all these issues, and guarantees a high-quality, efficient and effective facility that will support the pupil experience.
The boathouse project will consist of three distinct elements: the replacement of the lower boathouse, the extension of the former shooting range (currently used for boat storage) and the extension and repair of the steps leading into the river.
The Upper Boathouse
Less than fifty metres from the Lower Boathouse, but situated on the flood bank and well above the flood area, the Upper Boathouse will contain an extensive suite of facilities that have benefits for rowing, rugby and cricket. Toilet facilities for staff, pupils and visitors, and a small catering area, will enable a much-enhanced experience for staff, pupils, parents, visiting teams and spectators alike. The building includes a cricket store, and an indoor training area for rowers with capacity for a dozen rowing machines – a significant increase in the School’s overall capacity, and useful to pupils as a training tool regardless of their sport. Built alongside the former shooting range, the Upper Boathouse will provide space for vital boat-maintenance and repair, enabling us to extend the life of our fleet and keep our boats in the best possible condition.
The Lower Boathouse
Sitting a short distance from the perimeter, the Lower Boathouse is a robust, practical structure. Designed to be floodable, and to provide easy access for the safe removal of boats and equipment at times of rising water levels, it provides accessible storage for boats and launches, together with basic toilet facilities. At 496 square metres, it will provide much-needed space. Access to the river is via a gradually sloping platform on the School’s own land, enabling pupils to manoeuvre boats safely before they cross the public footpath to the launch steps.
Together, the Upper and Lower Boathouses will double the space available for rowing, and revolutionise facilities for all those engaging in sport – whether playing, coaching, or spectating.
The launch steps
The existing launch area comprises concrete steps, and wider timber steps at the edge of the water. As part of the development, the concrete steps will be extended in length to match the full width of the timber, enabling much quicker launch and retrieval and increasing time spent on the river itself. The timber steps will be made good.
The Boathouse will sit neatly between the existing pitches, and make good use of the space available to us.