Set in the Chiltern Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in west Hertfordshire, this equestrian centre in the curtilage of a listed farmhouse facilitates participation in horse-related activities for all ages, levels of skill and mobility. Its operators seek to break down the ‘elitist’ image of equestrian sports by encouraging people from all social backgrounds to explore and enjoy riding, both for exercise and to give alternative insights into the natural world.
The site had permission to build an agricultural structure, however the client’s intention was to reverse the utilitarian nature of a structure of this topology and create a more sculptural building in the Chiltern landscape.
Having to be suitable for all weathers and seasons, it needs ample lighting – as much natural as possible – shading for climate control and to avoid glare, and copious natural ventilation. All these features help to provide the needed large enclosure which serves to reassure nervous riders as well as horses with behavioural challenges, on which specialist advice was incorporated into the design.
The design rises to this challenge with a series of innovative construction techniques, materials and devices, many used here for the first time on an equestrian centre in the UK. These include an exo-skeleton made from a glulam timber frame to make a large, clear internal span, ringed by floor to ceiling curtain walling which allows light in and views out. It also gives a low pitch to the roof, reducing the impact in the landscape and effect on the farmhouse which remains the most important part of the composition.
The form provides natural shading (for instance from overhanging eaves) which together with ridge-venting, solar controlled glass, louvres and a super-insulated roof means the building can be adequately ventilated without mechanical assistance.
Since opening it has proved popular with and beyond the local horsing community, introducing many to riding for the first time, as well as with experts who use it to train ‘nervous and shy’ horses.
Location:Hertfordshire - United Kingdom
Studio NameAtelier Architecture & Design (AA+D)
Lead designerStephen Melvin RIBA
Design teamAA+D (architecture) - Stephen Melvin Eszter Pickarczyk; Akshey Shad; Trudy Tsang; Design 4 Structure (engineers) - Jon Lock; Mario Barosio; Ulrich Groenewald Buckland Timber (timber frame) - Robin Nicholson All Glass Systems (curtain wall) – Peter Evans Hallford Refurbishments (roof) - Simon Hallowell Fabrizio Giugiaro (client) Giugiaro Architettura
Project copyrightAA+D and the client Fabrizio Giugiaro