Millfield School is one of the leading independent co-educational schools for children aged two to 18 years old in the UK. The school recently outlined its future development vision, which includes a heavy focus on enhancing its facilities.
Entitled Millfield 2035, a key part of the strategic vision is to provide new, state-of-the-art sports facilities that are good enough for creating a new benchmark for the independent schools sector.
One of the sports in which Millfield excels is equestrian. Millfield operates one of the best combined equestrian and academic school environments in Britain, offering training up to the Fellowship Level through the British Horse Society. It is also one of a small number of British schools to have its own equestrian facilities on campus.
To support the Millfield 2035 strategic vision – and to further enhance the equestrian facilities available on site – Spatial Structures were approached to design, supply and build a new purpose built indoor riding arena.
The brief was to provide a cost effective shelter to an existing outdoor arena on the site, with a structure measuring 64m x 44m, in order to allow riders to be able to train and learn whatever the weather.
The impressive steel-framed structure took six months to build and has a PVC tension membrane fabric roof covering. The external walls are complemented by softwood vertical wall cladding. Access to the arena is provided with roller shutter doors to the main entrance.
Externally, the timber clad walls make for a clean, smart and distinctive finish. During the day the tensile fabric structure provides significant natural light into the building. By night, the provision of a LED lighting system ensures that no shadows are cast to enable safe riding and jumping conditions.
The new arena is situated within close proximity to the existing equine stabling, occupied boarding houses and full time residential livery staff.
Due to its large size, the space can be divided into two large training areas, allowing a greater number of riders to use the facility at the same time. Approximately 70 per cent of training will take place in the new arena, and a dividing fence can be removed for competitions and displays. There is also the potential for two dressage arenas to be set up side by side.
“It was important to ensure that the space achieved a safe, unobstructed, light and airy environment for students,” says Rob Ellis, development director at Spatial Structures. “We are very proud to have delivered this project for our client.”
Danny Anholt, director of Equestrian Sport at Millfield said the indoor arena has become a flagship facility. “Our new indoor arena is a fantastic addition to the riding programme at Millfield,” he added. “This exciting initiative ensures that Millfield Equestrian remains the leading school equestrian facility, with over 60 horses stabled and nearly 20 coaching and support staff on site.”