Slades Farm: Meeting the needs of multiple community groups on one recreation site

Plots & Blocks


Slades Farm Open Space is a popular sports and recreation ground in Bournemouth, located close to two universities and within a residential area. It hosts a popular skate park, a 250m outdoor velodrome, a dog exercise area, children’s play areas and team sports pitches.

The park was getting busier year on year, but the facility’s collection of 1970s buildings had outgrown the needs of the various users who were in desperate need of a more secure, accessible, and social indoor space.

We explored whether the most effective redevelopment would involve refreshing and rejigging the existing structures, or whether one grand new pavilion to replace them all would support the community best.


Nobody understands the building layout requirements better than the current users themselves, so we got straight to the task in hand, conducting many conversations and surveys to really understand the current concerns and future wish lists of each user group, including nearby schools with a keen interest in local social enterprise. Alongside community involvement, we listened to local sport clubs – cycling, cricket, rugby, and football – national bodies, such as British Cycling, and Sport England, local councillors, as well as carrying out site assessments with our project partners architecture practice Etc Urban.

Our collected data allowed us to find common interests, priorities, and ambitions across the groups, building the foundations of our explorations of new site configurations. Insights into reasons that would make people visit more regularly and extend their visiting times revealed the need for a social café space or clubhouse for users and spectators, better changing facilities, larger cycle workshops and secure storage units in more convenient locations, as well as a multi-functional space for work and leisure alike.

In parallel with the functional considerations, we considered environmental and cost effective aspects that would futureproof the facilities for years to come. The retrofit and refurbishment of the current structures would be less destructive and wasteful but bringing all services under one roof would greatly reduce running costs. We felt it was important to present both options to our client, creating plot plans and building designs for a single and multiple buildings.


With clear set of design principles, draft plans and illustrations, the client was equipped to confidently make decisions on the future of facilities at Slades Farm. In 2017, a purpose built structure was installed on site to replace one of the existing buildings on site. The new building responds directly to the design principles established by our work. It is now a hugely popular hub of social activity that brings the various leisure groups together and caters to the functional needs that were identified in our investigative work.