Byron Quarter Leisure and Play Spaces

Karakusevic Carson Architects

Client: 
Harrow Council

Borough: 
The London Borough of Harrow

Size and use:
19,000sqm, leisure and play

Status: 
Pre-planning

Byron Quarter is an ambitious leisure-led masterplan and residential quarter in Harrow which places health and well-being for the community at its heart. Located on a prominent site on the edge of Byron Recreation Ground, the design re-imagines the park edge with new and upgraded sports and community facilities to establish the area as a prime leisure destination. 

The site is currently home to a wealth of leisure buildings which are in need of investment and upgrade to remain operational throughout the coming years. The masterplan plays a key part in funding and future-proofing these sports and leisure uses for the community.

Karakusevic Carson Architects
Karakusevic Carson Architects

The unique blend and arrangement of park-front leisure activities at Byron Quarter is the result of working closely with the wide variety of existing leisure providers and the community to create a cohesive and successful programme of sports and recreation. Imperative to the masterplan is the continued and uninterrupted operation of all leisure services throughout development, set to be achieved through a complex and intelligent phasing programme.

Homes in the area are currently disconnected from Byron Recreation Ground and existing ‘black box’ leisure buildings which are poorly planned with blank park-facing facades, illegible access routes and unwelcoming entrances. Our masterplan approach transforms this relationship to create a fully visible and permeable entrance into the park, re-animated with a series of high-quality, well-defined leisure buildings, community uses and play spaces to establish sports and recreation as a centre-piece of the neighbourhood. 

Within this landscape, informal play programmes frame an existing skate park to create a 150m multi-generational outdoor play space to be enjoyed by young children, teenagers and adults.

New leisure buildings are strategically re-arranged along the park-edge to maximise visibility and activity between each building, their unique leisure programmes and the recreation ground. Generous park-facing entrances and glass facades make activities more visible and accessible, encouraging people to participate in a range of different sports and leisure activities, both inside and out, whilst enabling long views across the park. Activity at ground floor aids circulation and improves safety around the recreation ground and enhances the surrounding public realm. A dedicated pedestrian cycle path connects park-front leisure activities to the wider neighbourhood and up to Belmont Nature trail, encouraging exercise and sustainable travel.

Karakusevic Carson Architects
Karakusevic Carson Architects

The Harrow School of Gymnastics is being re-located within the masterplan and upgraded for contemporary use and competitions with a double height gymnastics hall, on-site accommodation, a nursery and a coach carpark. 

A new Leisure Centre hosting a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activity is designed in respond to the topography of the site, with a raised ground floor swimming pool, sports hall and elevated park views. Soft landscaping at the park-edge gives swimmers privacy, shields direct sunlight and mediates a level change into the recreation ground. A distinct saw-tooth roof diffuses light into the swimming pool and a double-height climbing wall visible from the residential neighbourhood activates the southern façade of the building.

Each building is carefully designed to support individual leisure activities, be flexible for future use and contribute to the character of an attractive, playful park landscape. Massing is broken down to express primary and ancillary leisure uses, increase visibility in and along the park and bring interest to the long facades of the leisure buildings. Different strategies for leisure spaces on the tops floors create a variety of articulated roof forms, giving each building a distinct visual identity and marking them clearly along the park edge. A neutral palette of high-quality, hard-wearing brickwork combined with lighter materials such as glass and metalwork are used across all buildings to ensure they sit well together, reflect the character of the local area and are built to last.

Karakusevic Carson Architects

Byron Box is a dynamic and adaptable building at the western edge of the park mixing sports, culture and community uses in one place. A large event space at ground floor transforms into a 6-court sports hall, allowing it to become a beneficial extension of the leisure centre. Wealdstone Outdoor Bowls Club and a new playground are also located at this quieter edge of the park surrounded by an attractive landscape of trees and planting to mitigate noise and improve privacy. The re-location of activities in this western corner of the park also helps to define the re-established entrance into the recreation ground from Peel Road.

The ambitions of Byron Quarter extensively re-frame the neighbourhood around sports, exercise and recreation, promoting healthy and active lifestyles within the community and securing its identity and long-term success as a major leisure destination.

Karakusevic Carson Architects
Karakusevic Carson Architects

Design Team

Architect and Masterplanner: Karakusevic Carson Architects 

Landscape/Public Realm: Periscope

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