Case Study

Redefining sport at Oundle

Oundle School

Peterborough / 2014


Sport is a major strength at Oundle School in Northamptonshire. At the moment the sports facilities are a collection of fields and buildings that have grown up as the need has arisen. We challenged the existing master plan for reordering the site, stressing the importance of making a new ‘place’ within the town. We changed the shape and orientation of the proposed sports centre and identified the best routes for pupils to come and go from what we think of as a new sports campus.

We also considered the routes to be taken by parents and members of the public who will have access to the campus. By siting the main buildings around a central ‘square’, parents will have a clearly delineated route from the car parks and will follow routes back through the building at the end of matches, providing opportunities to talk to staff, pupils and other parents, and to enjoy match teas.




Our preliminary designs for the new sports centre show a more open and engaging, less inward-looking building than conventional box-like sports centres. To lessen the impact of its size the three major components - the eight-court sports hall, a 25m swimming pool and hospitality suite - are broken down into volumes, each identifiable by its scale and the use of materials.

We have used the varying levels of the steeply sloping site to help the building settle into the landscape.



Oundle is a quintessential English market town. The school is very much integrated, both physically and socially, with the town. We were conscious that although the building won’t be visible from outside the new sports campus, it will be used by the public and is a civic building which needs to respect its physical and historic context.

This is one component of a wider development of the school. It is at the far end of the school’s grounds that has grown up more haphazardly and we needed to make sense of it. While we have been working on this project we have also been asked to design a new STEM campus for the school



How we worked

We were invited to bid for the job, which we won, as a result of two personal recommendations. 

We are working with the school’s in-house project manager and Estates Bursar, alongside a steering group of school governors. By making numerous visits to the school we have become familiar with how the school and town coexist, and how each contributes to the vibrancy of Oundle. The project will involve complex phasing.

Making it happen

As well as working on the design for the campus and the individual components of the sports centre, we have also carried out transport studies and flood risk and bio diversity reports to support the planning application. These feasibility studies are also critical for fundraising.

The plans will be submitted for planning in mid 2014, with completion for the whole master plan expected by 2020.



Oundle School









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