Saturday, 8 June 2013

The Pavilion

Fantasy Bob understands that there is a bit of a stramash, not to say stooshie, in London leading up to the opening this weekend of the Serpentine Pavilion in Kensington Gardens.
The Serpentine Pavilion

The Pavilion, which sits outside the Serpentine Gallery, has been designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. It is obvious that Fujimoto did not consult any cricketers in the design of his pavilion. Had he done so he might have come up with something more in line with the needs of modern cricketers.

Instead, what he has built is described by those who know about these things as a delicate, three-dimensional structure, each unit of which is composed of fine steel bars. It will form a semi-transparent, irregular ring, simultaneously protecting visitors from the elements while allowing them to remain part of the landscape. The overall footprint will be 350 square-metres and the Pavilion will have two entrances. A series of stepped terraces will provide seating areas that will allow the Pavilion to be used as a flexible, multi-purpose social space. 

In short it is totally useless for cricketing purposes. There are no roofs and no walls.  No pegs to hang a cricketer's trousers on.  No showers or toilets and it is uncertain which of its so-called multi-purpose social spaces will be appropriate for tea. FB fails to understand how the powers that be at the Serpentine let themselves be fooled into thinking that this construction is suitable for use as a Pavilion.

FB reads elsewhere that Sou Fujimoto is the leading light of an exciting generation of architects who are re-inventing our relationship with the built environment. Inspired by organic structures, such as the forest, Fujimoto’s signature buildings inhabit a space between nature and artificiality. Now, as FB's worldwide readership know that space between nature and artificiality is already occupied by FB's attempts to play leg spin bowling. So Mr Fujimoto needs to clear off and think harder.

Fujimoto's failure got FB thinking about Cricket Pavilions he has known and loved.  Of course for many lower league cricketers the concept of a pavilion is a chimera.  They will go through a whole season without seeing far less entering a Pavilion for they will play on public parks which may have a dressing room of sorts within a reasonable taxi ride of the pitch but nothing else. When FB finds himself playing on such places he loads up with essential comforts. He does not relish several hours sitting on the grass. So a selection of chairs, tables, rugs, patio heaters, portable toilets, chaise longue, standard lamps, micro waves, footstools, coat stands, cushions, and other essential items too numerous to list accompanies the cricket bag and a removal van from Pickfords is summoned to assist.

However there are many grounds where the Pavilion is a splendid bit of heritage - through its cool portals can be found a treasure trove of photos of teams and players of days gone by, blazered and cravatted looking confidently out of the frame, not knowing that their next innings would be on the Somme or Ypres. Photos of professionals associated with the club's glorious past, their signature fading as the memories of their graceful cover driving dims. There is the smell of old pavilion a heady mixture of sweat, linseed oil, damp carpets, stale beer - updated these days with an overlay of Lynx.   This fragrance should be bottled and marketed as Nostalgie.  It would sell like hot cakes (some of which are also available in proper Pavilions.) This is the essence of Paviliion which seems to have escaped Mr Fujimoto's attention.

Of all the pavilions in all the world in which FB has hung his clothes, he thinks the finest is to be found at the Doo'cot Park just outside Perth. It is unique and acknowledged as one of Perth's iconic buildings.

The Doo'cot Pavilion
The Doo'cot cricket ground was the gift of AK Bell, whisky magnate, philanthropist and cricketer. Bell represented Scotland on a number of occasions and had a long-lasting personal friendship with Sir Donald Bradman. 

Doo'cot Park was part of the development of the philanthropic Gannochy Estate by the Trust of that name established by Bell.  Other developments included low cost housing for the working people of Perth.

The Pavilion is a stunning building.  It was upgraded in 2008 and re-roofed in 2011 but retains its original character and features. Though stone-constructed it is externally lined with larch. The pan-tiled roof is also complemented by a dummy octagonal doo'cot in green copper. The club rooms lead out onto a sizable balcony which provides an excellent view of the cricket ground and the hills to the north of Perth.
The Bells and the Bradmans

Doo'cot is at present home to the Perth Doo'cot CC.  Lucky them having such a Pavilion to enjoy.

Now, if only Mr Fujimoto had taken a trip to Perth, the Serpentine would have something to shout about.

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