St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Grounds St George's Park - Apartheid Stand Becomes a Modern Cricket Centre
Apartheid Stand Becomes a Modern Cricket Centre
Sandi Krige

The transformation of the old stand behind the wicket at the Crusader Grounds has been so radical that few realise that under the postmodern finery lies the original structure.

Click image to enlarge
A good view of the old "open" or "standing only" stand which served as the non-European stand during the apartheid era, during a medal parade in World War 2.
The recycled building - the second entry in the 1988 Herald Architectural Awards - is of course now the Firestone Indoor Cricket Centre - once the old coloured stand under the rule of apartheid.

Designed by Simpson, Heugh, Robertson and Baker, the recycling of the building was done in just 18 weeks by MacDonald Construction on a tight budget.

In response to the historical nature of much of central Port Elizabeth, project architect, Terry Baker, has used numerous Victorian elements.

The pitched corrugated roof, the design of the timber balustrading, verandas, and the tower structure set asymmetrically on the facade, are all contemporary interpretations of traditional forms.

Built on a budget of R360 000, the new pavilion accommodates enclosed viewing on a mezzanine level as well as indoor cricket facilities, including nets and artificial grass carpeting which can be used for indoor winter training.

Says Mr Baker: Our brief was to provide indoor cricket practice facilities. By recycling the old stand we were offered the additional potential of superbly siting elevated spectator seating.

The old stand consisted of steel columns supporting steel roof trusses with brick and asbestos cladding along the back and side walls. The overall size of the stand and spacing of the columns allowed for a combination of four practice pitches or one large action cricket playing area to be included at ground level.

The pavilion was also lengthened by 5m to provide kitchen and ancillary accommodation, and toilet and change rooms were added along the back wall outside the original structure.

The floor to roof height of 6m made it possible to insert a mezzanine floor which has been stepped to provide a permanent tiered seating gallery. Bar and media facilities - including a television loft - have also been added.

Fire escapes on either side of the building have been designed to enhance the decorative and aesthetic appearance of the pavilion.

“Two interesting technical problems we resolved were the provision of sight screens and frameless sliding windows,” said, Mr Baker.

“The original sightscreen which - had to be removed - was located on rails so that it could be moved back and forth across the wicket.

“Large sliding doors on either side of a walled central section, now provide that facility,” he said.

Frameless gallery windows, were installed with the help of a local firm of aluminium fabricators who evolved an inexpensive system using standard doors on rollers.

“Due to the limited funds available for the project, the level of sophistication of the detailing and finishes has been kept to a minimum, with the design philosophy being to regard the building as almost industrial in nature,” Mr Baker said.

Eastern Province Herald,
January 29, 1988.

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