Reading FC Training academy - Bearwood Park

Bearwood Park Training Academy is a mixed-use development which transforms the historic 120 acre Bearwood Park Estate into a world-class training campus for Reading Football Club. A key milestone in the Club’s history also sees this sensitive site rejuvenated and aims to remove the Grade II Listed Park from the English Heritage’s ‘at risk’ register.

OUR CLOSE WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH READING FC AND EXPERIENCE OF WORKING ON A RANGE OF PROJECTS WITH THEM INCLUDING ROYAL ELM PARK, HOGWOOD AND FOREST SCHOOL HAS ENABLED US TO PROVIDE A HOLISTIC APPROACH, TAKING IN ACCOUNT THEIR CURRENT PORTFOLIO AND FACILITIES AND ENSURING THE CLUB HAS THE TOP OF THE RANGE REHAB FACILITIES. 

Nick Collins, Architectural Partner

Alongside 13 high quality football pitches, the development will include the Club’s headquarters, work, living and recreations spaces, and high-tech training facilities for first team and academy squads, all located within a sleek architectural design, providing high-quality accommodation and many benefits for the region.

The scheme offers significant improvements to a substantial area of the Grade II Listed Park and Garden and is the result of extensive and coordinated engagement with Historic England and Wokingham Borough Council. With preservation and management at the forefront of the design process, the scheme delivers increased value to the area, including its biodiversity, amenity and appearance, whilst the restoration and conversion of under-utilised historic buildings will contribute towards Wokingham Borough Council’s housing stock.

The delivery of this campus will help to maintain Reading Football Club's Category 1 Status in line with the implementation of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP). As a world class training campus, it is a huge asset for the Thames Valley, supporting the Club’s position in the football league and the associated employment and economic benefits this brings to the region. The much improved and extended facilities will ensure existing relationships with local schools will be strengthened, offering significant social benefits to the region.

Project Details

  • 48.5ha site & Grade II Listed Park
  • Word-class training academy
  • 13 high-quality football pitches
  • Reading FC Club HQ
  • High-tech training facilities
  • Bespoke, contemporary architecture

Delivery through design

Our four design principles were created to respond to two main challenges for the development; to restore, enhance and protect the site’s existing assets and to provide a training facility that enables the Club to be ever-evolving and competitive; competing at the highest level.

  1. Protect, enhance and manage the sites ecology and tree planting
  2. Sustain and enhance the historic landscape character, views and buildings.
  3. Create an integrated World Class Training Campus with a central nucleus for the Academy and First Team players.
  4. Create a secure and safe environment which uses the sites natural landform, vegetation and built form.

These principles are reflected site wide through the masterplan, architecture and landscape design, creating an environment that is high quality, sensitive and co-ordinated for the Club, and one that promotes movement, safety, accessibility, sustainability and character.

BY ENSURING THE DESIGN AND LANDSCAPE DESIGN RESPECTED THIS HISTORIC AND PICTURESQUE SETTING, WE WERE ABLE TO ENSURE THAT THE SCHEME PROVIDED THE FRAGILE SITE WITH SOME MUCH-NEEDED REJUVENATION. AS WELL AS EXTENSIVE REFURBISHMENT OF EXISTING AGRICULTURAL AND RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS, WHICH WILL IMPROVE THE VISUAL AND BUILD QUALITY, THE NEW BUILDINGS ARE FRAMED WITHIN THE DENSE GREEN LANDSCAPE, PROVIDING A SCENIC BACKDROP TO FACILITIES OF THE HIGHEST QUALITY. 

Nick Collins, Architectural Partner

Bespoke contemporary architecture blends with the historic landscape backdrop while still creating intrigue with simple, low-lying sculptural forms all sharing a common materiality to create a unified family of pavilions. Existing roads and footpaths have also been sympathetically restored, preventing the need for any additional infrastructure. The 13 pitches have been located to minimise spoil removal from the site, whilst established trees have been incorporated into the scheme and new planting is akin to the original estate throughout. Elements of the historic park and garden will also be reinstated, such as the ecologically rich meadow grasslands, and where appropriate, historic views will be recreated providing glimpses to the lake and park land.

Our inter-disciplinary team of architects, planners, landscape designers, heritage and EIA experts are proud to have been part of creating Bearwood Park, a world-class training campus, the ‘heartbeat’ of Reading Football Club. Through its creation, heritage assets have been restored and enhanced, creating a viable, living place fit for present day.

Planning permission was secured in 2012.