Dipping an oar into life at Radley College

Rowing has been at the institution's core since 1849. Now, a newly completed strength and conditioning centre joins the sports buildings onsite

Expanding form sizes at Radley College have led to the need for enhanced sports facilities, to better fulfil their purpose and enrich the curriculum offered. The new buildings now provide much-needed ancillary and spectator spaces for the specialised outdoor sporting grounds, as well as indoor training areas, tailored to the needs of students using the athletics track and Rowing Centre. 

Designed by Mulroy Architects, the new additions to Radley College follow the same simple and cost-effective construction methods as the Rowing Centre. Similarly, the exterior timber cladding adds a contemporary and cohesive hue to the buildings. In turn, Mulroy have provided the College with the increase in space needed to suit their needs, while minimising the impact of the new structures by letting them appear unobtrusive within their surroundings.

The Strength and Conditioning Centre sits alongside the athletics track and Rowing Centre, providing close proximity between these facilities, as required to support the College’s curriculum. The new stand-alone building is split into two distinct wings, an athletics warm-up space and indoor rowing training room. Replacing the two temporary sheds previously used, the new training room provides space for 24 rowing machines for effective indoor training. Complimenting this, the warm-up space offers numerous power cages and free weights, with a generous central floor space allowing for both floor exercise and group tutorials. The IT-rich facility also includes computer terminals and projector screens, for continuous monitoring and review of pupils’ sport performance. 

Alongside the Rowing Centre, the wings complete a triangular formation and provide shelter to a central, open-air courtyard that has been created between the two buildings. Frequently used as part of circuit training, this outdoor area is easily accessed through vast glazed sliding doors from both main training rooms, allowing a smooth transition into the Rowing Centre. The building is accessed by a footpath from the north, a short walk from a round pavilion, where the changing facilities for the centre are provided. Ancillary and support spaces such as the toilets and offices are located close to the entrance, creating an informal social space for larger sporting events, hosted by the college. 

An external staircase gives access to a viewing balcony which acts as an athletics control room, allowing for accurate monitoring of the races on the track, in line with the high-performance curriculum encouraged by the college. Along the track itself, storage space is integrated in the buildings’ facades, allowing convenient access to equipment during lessons and training. Spectator areas are also included along the southern edge of the structure, through a series of steps with views into the Rowing Centre. 

Already proving to be a vital asset to the school’s heavily praised sports department, the new set of much-needed ancillary and spectator spaces and enhanced sports facilities have enabled students to achieve higher performance within the field of rowing along with measurable race results.