Text description provided by the architects. The vision for Canoe Lake Leisure Tennis Pavilion was to create a truly public building as part of a substantial regeneration project for Southsea Common, a historic part of Portsmouth, UK.
The brief was to create a permanent home for the Tennis Club, in Southsea, whilst also creating a multi-functioning space to host a wide range of community events, for all ages, throughout the year. A key design requirement was for a two-storey building to take full advantage of the unique setting with views across the tennis courts, the lake and beyond. The building design, however, had to be sensitive and unobtrusive to the surrounding community and residential buildings.
Architectural the approach was to create a robust and solid ground floor form which asserts itself on the site, with a visually lightweight and delicate first floor sat atop. The ground floor, formed from brick, has large openings which are carved away to reveal views into the building and activity on the courts beyond, inviting the community to engage with tennis and the activities within. The bricks are Danish handmade clay bricks, rarely seen in public buildings of this scale, much longer than a standard UK brick and half as high, helping the building appear to sit lower and longer.
The pavilion’s first floor viewing gallery is designed to be as unobtrusive, transparent and delicate as possible. Initially a second floor was difficult to gain approval for, due to concerns with mass and scale. With persistence, a scheme with a delicate slim butterfly roof floating above the largely glazed first floor was approved, reducing the building mass and creating covered outdoor space.
In the interior the design had to be hard wearing and enduring, the deliberately utilitarian interior is softened with plywood linking, ash floors, a wonderfully tactile cast concrete exposed roof and uses furnishings to add a pop of colour. The multifunctioning space of the pavilion is used on a regular basis for many different functions including art classes, playwright workshops and fitness groups.
This building is intended to be a beacon not only for tennis, but for the community and for Southsea who have eagerly embraced the facility.