Mulroy Architects completes timber-clad rowing centre for Oxford school

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A pool with a stationary boat on top is the centrepiece of this rowing centre designed by Mulroy Architects for a private boarding school in Oxfordshire, England (+ movie).

Radley Rowing Centre by Mulroy Architects

The London-based firm created the Radley College Rowing Centre to provide a year-round training facility for the school's rowing teams.

The single-storey building is located on an elevated plot beside the school's existing sports facilities on the edge of the Radley College campus. At its centre is the tank of water and the static boat, positioned behind a large window to allow coaches to survey the school grounds during their long training sessions.

Radley Rowing Centre by Mulroy Architects

"Radley College's rowing tank features a static training boat for teams up to eight, and is a state of the art facility that allows the school to train and compete at the highest possible level," explained the architects.

"Although rowing teams are able to train on the nearby River Thames, this is weather dependent, and much training and curriculum time is lost due to bad weather or the river being in flood."

Radley Rowing Centre by Mulroy Architects

The space is unheated, but is sheltered to allow training to take place year-round and in all weathers, while the rowing tank is designed to mimic river conditions.



The boat, which can hold up to eight rowers, was designed specifically for the pool and produced by a local metalworker.

Radley Rowing Centre by Mulroy Architects

"In order to replicate the actual rowing experience more closely, the tank is unheated and unpowered, with resistance being provided by water flowing in a double return loop around and under the boat," said the studio.

The 275-square-metre building has a steel frame and is partially clad in louvred Thermowood – a type of temperature-treated wood with an increased lifespan.

Radley Rowing Centre by Mulroy Architects

The rest of the building is covered in panels of Kingspan composite panels left over from an early project, helping to keep construction costs to the £400,000 budget.

Sliding doors at the side of the building can be fully opened to cross ventilate the space, while the large window in the eastern side draws natural light into the space to reduce energy demands. LED panels in the ceiling provide additional lighting.

Radley Rowing Centre by Mulroy Architects

Cameras mounted on the walls and ceiling record the sessions and the footage can be projected onto a large screen facing the tank during feedback sessions.

"The building's elegant interior is an IT-rich and controlled environment where training and performance quality can be closely monitored," said the studio.

Radley Rowing Centre by Mulroy Architects

The Radley College Rowing Centre is part of a larger project by Mulroy Architects, which includes a circuit-training room, a training room with 20 rowing machines, a viewing gallery for the nearby tennis courts, and a running track and new changing rooms.

Photography is by Joakim Boren.

Radley Rowing Centre by Mulroy Architects
Location plan – click for larger image
Radley Rowing Centre by Mulroy Architects
Site plan – click for larger image
Radley Rowing Centre by Mulroy Architects
Plan – click for larger image