Hackney Marshes is best known as the London home of amateur Sunday League football. Stanton Williams was commissioned in 2008 to provide a new ‘Community Hub’ at the South Marsh, comprising new changing rooms, a café, and an education facility. They are housed in a welcoming, inclusive structure that recognises the special qualities of this place and connects with its wider setting, including the adjacent Olympic Park.
The Centre is embedded within the landscape, avoiding the ‘tabula rasa’ approach of many sports venues. Plugging a gap in the trees that surround the pitches, its massing minimises its impact on the site. The overall impression is one of horizontality, with changing rooms arranged in linear fashion at ground level.
The café and education spaces are placed above at one end, merging into the taller trees of the adjacent coppice. The layout fuses practicality and flexibility with the desire to celebrate the ritual aspects of football: not least the way that the act of changing fuses individuals into teams.
Materials have been chosen for robustness and for their ability to blend into the structure’s surroundings. Gabion walls provide a vandal-resistant envelope and function as a framework for climbing plants, creating a ‘green wall’. Weathered steel is used for cladding, shutters and louvres, offering a rich texture. Changing in colour over time, it emphasises the combination of nature and artifice that permeates the scheme.
Project: Hackney Marsh Centre
Client: London Borough of Hackney
Cost Consultant: Gardiner & Theobald
Civil and Structural Engineer: Webb Yates
Services Engineer: Zisman Bowyer & Partners
Landscape Architects: Camlins
CDM Coordinator: PFB Consulting
Lighting Design: Minds Eye
Main Contractor: John Sisk & Son