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Copthall Pavilion in Barnet has been reimagined for London Festival of Architecture


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The London Festival of Architecture and London Borough of Barnet have revealed a revitalised two-storey sports pavilion located in Copthall Playing Fields.

Reimagining Copthall Pavilion © Luke O’Donovan

A dilapidated sports pavilion in Barnet has been reimagined by architects GPAD and POoR Collective for the London Festival of Architecture, as a welcoming community hub which encourages people of all ages to get involved in sport and have their say about the future of this building.

The temporary design intervention, led by the energetic and thoughtful architecture practice GPAD has transformed the exterior of this two-storey sixties building which had previously been home to changing facilities and sporting socials. Without completely removing all traces of the previous character of the space, the designers have given the building’s exterior a new colour scheme which draws the eye from across the playing fields. The use of the vacant rear wall as somewhere to kick a ball against has been formalised by colourful markings which show goals for target practice and create a sense of welcome.

A striking triptych mural which celebrates the playing fields’ sporting past and present was designed by POoR in collaboration with local youth group FUSE. The mural and sporting interventions formed the backdrop to a day of fun for all ages on Saturday 8 June which included football coaching, Music from DJ academy, yoga taster sessions, trails and the opportunity to have their say in the future of the building.

The reimagined space invites individuals to share memories and testimonials about their previous engagement with the site. LFA has a long history of trialling initiatives in the public realm which have been the catalyst for meaningful change for the city, and will be continuing to work with the design team and Barnet Council on the findings of this project and recommend the next steps for transforming the pavilion to better meet the needs of the communities it serves.

This project was the result of a competition run by LFA and Barnet Council in 2024, building on Barnet’s involvement with the London Festival of Architecture as a key destination for the Festival’s 20th anniversary year. The winners were selected by a jury chaired by Catherine Staniland, Director at NLA and comprised: Richard Young, Greenspaces Development Officer, Barnet Council; Rebekka Deighton, Culture & Public Art Officer, Barnet Council; Chris Donkin, Strategic Lead for Active Environments, London Sport; Francesca Murialdo, Director of Programmes in Interior Architecture and Design, Middlesex University; Tom Kendall, Director, Wayward Plants; Russell Curtis, Director, RCKa architects

Catherine Staniland, Director at NLA said: “As LFA celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, Putting Community at the Core of Copthall stands as a testament to the types of new thinking and collaboration we’re so proud to support across this city.”

Image of design team
Image of the design team, GPAD and POoR © Luke O’Donovan

This is the second year that Barnet has formed a key Destination within the Festival’s programme and this year will see over 60 events take place across the borough that respond to this year’s theme of ‘Reimagine’. Building on the success of last year’s Festival, which saw the local ‘Edgy Collective’ reimagine Edgware Highstreet through three architectural interventions and trailed ways to navigate Barnet’s green spaces in Colindale through a playful intervention by Andre Kong Studio x Wayward.

As part of a year-long cycle, LFA engaged with a community of local organisers from across the town centres including architects, artists, and local organisations to be part of the programme. Barnet Council offered £15,000 worth of grant funding to further support local event organisers via the Barnet LFA Community Fund. Local residents, artists, historians, organisations and more were able to apply for a grant to support new or planned events and activities for LFA2024, on the basis that events were inclusive, clearly benefited Barnet residents, and celebrated architecture and heritage across the borough.

See the full Barnet Destination programme here.

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