Maintaining the feel of a place

19 May 2022

Revamping the Cruicible

The Crucible in Sheffield is known as the home of the Snooker World Championship.  It is a much-loved venue both by the players and the public. Snooker has developed to be a worldwide sport.  The Crucible, to respond to this growth, and keep it well positioned, against alternative venues needs to expand.

The challenge is how to expand without losing the atmosphere of the venue.

The recent two-day World Championship enabled a wide range of 1 to 1 conversations with a variety of Crucible users, including the players, to determine what features of the building and setting are enjoyed or disliked.  James Burland, the architect supporting the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, has conducted these interviews to determine what people value in the Crucible atmosphere. Burland emphasises that understanding what people value in the existing buildings and surroundings is critical.

Burland, who designed Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium whilst at Arup, has spent the last few years developing a methodology (Aura Planning), to understand how people value Buildings and Spaces.  The interviews enable a series of atmospheric descriptors to be synthesised, in a structured manner, from the conversations which inform the design process. 

This has allowed the development of design ideas (NOT solutions) which will form the basis for further conversations.  One design involves a new separate venue that is aligned with the existing venue.  The proposals have generated interest in the national press.

The Role of Guildford

James Burland has his office in the Guildford area and has, on a personal basis, used a variety of local residents and developments to trial and refine his methodology over the past few years.  Now the Aura process has become more mature, might it be interesting to see it applied to a development in Guildford?   

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