Eton College has long been the learning establishment of choice for the sons of royal families. It has also educated many Prime Ministers. First opened in 1440 by Henry VI, it is an institution rich in heritage and tradition.

Sports education plays an essential part in the curriculum, with The Wall, Rackets and Fives being offered alongside better-known games of Rugby, Tennis and Cricket.

At the turn of this century, the sports pavilion was a pre-fabricated building, far beyond its life expectancy. As part of a programme of development to modernise the school’s facilities, plans for a new pavilion were devised.

Willowbrook Pavilion

Lewandowski Architects were selected to create a new, single-storey pavilion that was fitting of this prestigious school. The building would need to provide accessible changing facilities, storage for sports equipment and social spaces, with views for spectators.

The original pavilion was out on a limb, so the project began with the selection of a new location next to the floodlit, all-weather pitches. Being close to the River Thames near Windsor, the architects devised a plan to elevate the building off the ground. The raised floor minimises the risk of flooding. This was a practical consideration, yet the aesthetic effect gives a sense that the building is floating.



Finished with Shou Sugi Ban® Charred Timber Cladding

The Willowbrook Outdoor Sports Centre is carefully positioned to give broad views across the sports facilities. This is enhanced by floor to ceiling glazed screens, which open up to connect the inside and out. The 290sqm building is finished with Shou Sugi Ban®, dark charred timber cladding, supplied by Exterior Solutions Ltd.

The charred timbers provide a contemporary finish, which blends into the surrounding trees and landscape. It is also a low-maintenance cladding solution, as the charring process helps to protect and preserve the timber. The exterior theme continues inside, with birch ply interior cladding and black accessories.

Whilst being stunning to look at, the building is a practical, accessible, hardwearing and durable design. With a Community Use Agreement in place, the timber-clad pavilion is also available to hire. Many spectators have already visited the roof terrace and clubhouse to cheer on their team.

“We are delighted with the quality of the design and the development has made a substantial addition to the College’s facilities”

 – Ian Mellor, Buildings & Facilities Director, Eton College


Bishop Stortford 

Regeneration of Bishop Stortford College

At another Independent school, Shou Sugi Ban® charred timber cladding is the material of choice for an extensive regeneration project.

Founded in 1868, when an existing school was acquired, Bishop Stortford College has some fantastic architecture. It includes Art and Craft buildings designed by former pupil Herbert Ibberstone and a Georgian Colonial Hall. This was the vision of Clough William Ellis, who was made famous by the creation of Portmeirion.

Whilst part of the school’s history, many of the heritage buildings required modernisation to ensure they could meet the needs of current and future students. Hawkins/Brown Architects were selected to work on this extensive project.

One of the buildings to receive an upgrade was Wynch Cottage, an Arts & Crafts style property. The historic building was retained and refurbished, with a contemporary extension being added to create bright, multi-purpose spaces.

Hawkins/Brown decided that the best way to blend the extension into the existing building was to use Shou Sugi Ban®. This high-quality charred timber cladding is a sustainable, low maintenance material that delivers a contemporary, yet sensitive finish. As such, it met the requirements of the brief.

Charred timber cladding, coupled with red brick, is the theme that has been carried through the other buildings in the wider renovation project. This helps to create a sense of cohesion and blends the buildings into their surroundings.

The quality of the design, build and finish has resulted in the Bishop Stortford College being shortlisted for the RIBA East Awards in 2017 for Wynch Cottage and again 2019 for the College Boarding Houses.

Leading Suppliers of Charred Timber Cladding

As holders of the Shou Sugi Ban® trademark, Exterior Solutions Ltd is committed to delivering the highest quality charred timber cladding to architects and building developers. Our experienced workshop team have learnt the traditional Japanese art of yakisugi. Each plank of timber undergoes the controlled finishing process on-site.

If charred timber cladding meets the requirements of your client’s brief, you can download a Shou Sugi Ban® catalogue from our website. Please contact Exterior Solutions Ltd on 01494 711800 to request samples of our treated timbers or a quote.