Author: David Rowlinson
Article first appeared in Architecture and Design
Allen Jack+Cottier (AJ+C) has overcome an international field of contenders to win the Sport in Architecture Award at the 2018 World Architecture News (WAN) Awards in London. AJ+C's winning project, the Judith Poole Sports Hall and playing fields at Abbotsleigh School in Sydney's leafy Wahroonga beat five other finalists vying for the prestigious award. The project also won the award for Excellence in the Use of Timber Products – Timber Flooring – in the 2016 Australian Timber Design Awards.
The hall displays a constant and carefully considered connection with its forest surroundings. A detailed study of the blue gum forest led to the retention of all significant trees, which then became the inspiration for the range of timbers used throughout the building.
The project comprises a new multi-purpose sports hall, elevated sports field, fitness room, large flexible teaching/dance studio spaces, tiered spectator seating, amenities, viewing areas, and two large undercover car parks. Its location adjacent to the existing aquatic centre and sports oval consolidates the sporting precinct of the School.
Principal architect and CEO of AJ+C Michael Heenan attended the award presentation in London accompanied by the building's namesake Abbotsleigh retired headmistress Judith Poole.
"To see our sensitive building that sits lightly in its native Australian environment up against internationally acclaimed buildings such as the mega San Mames Stadium in Bilbao was incredible, so it was almost overwhelming when it was announced as the winner," said Heenan.
The AJ+C team started working on the building in 2012 following a three-year master planning phase. The building was completed in 2015.
Make it Wood Program Manager