Community Centre, Peacehaven Near Brighton
Shape Architecture has built many community projects in London and throughout the South East. We have a wide range of experience we can draw on when it comes to working with diverse community groups and pride ourselves on our ability to listen and communicate clearly.
Shape Architecture was invited to tender on the basis of a competitive interview with four other architectural practices. We were awarded the commission on the basis of our portfolio of projects with community groups and schools. We were also able to highlight successful experience of collaborating with community groups.
The House Project, our client, required two large halls in a two storey building with supporting kitchen, storage, WCs and lift. Given the age range of the users a simple easily accessible and light filled interior was essential.
The site was very challenging, being the rear gardens of the existing House Project building which itself had to remain active and trading throughout the construction process. Neighbours ranged from small bungalows to an industrial building. The existing House Project building also had numerous windows looking out onto the garden which should not be compromised. In addition, the client also required a building that had low operation costs. As with most projects of this nature, the budget was tight and had to be spent carefully.
The Building Form
A simple building form has been designed to maximise the building footprint within the site boundaries. The resultant cube is then enlivened with a simple raking roof and at the front facade, a large glazed panel. Various windows and rooflights add further interest, and the use of a lower band of brick and upper section of render help reduce the massing impact of the building.
The Building Layout
The layout of the Community Centre is simple and efficient. At ground and first floor levels each hall is bounded front and rear by a band of ancillary accommodation and circulation. At the front facade this area accommodates stair, lift and circulation. At the rear, kitchen, storage and WC. Glazed internal screens allow light to pass from the front elevation to the community space beyond. These spaces are also lit by a mix of side clerestory windows and roof lights. The activity spaces are therefore welcoming and filled with light.
A Low Energy Building
The client for the new community centre required a low energy building with low running costs. This has been addressed from the very outset. The building is a simple form and very well lit with natural light. It is constructed to a high level of thermal performance, and an air source heat pump provides free energy for the building’s services.
Light and Colour
The mix of rooflights, windows and glazed screens ensure that all parts of the community centre are well lit and reduce the need for artificial light. The simple spaces are easily lit, and the interior is painted white to maximise light levels. This internal decoration also acts as a background for more colourful items such as the feature stair and graphics added by the building user.
The stair is formed in folded metal with a painted metal balustrade. This simple composition has created a visually striking stair. The bright colour applied to the balustrade aids all users and adds further interest. The stair sits behind the two storey glazed screen which ensures it is flooded with daylight and itself adds much interest to the building facade.
A simple palette of high quality robust materials is deployed throughout the Peacehaven Community Centre. These range from a brick clad ground floor to aluminium framed windows and internal steel stair.
The new Community Centre is sunken into a sloping site, to ensure access from both front and rear elevations is possible. This is achieved with a mix of steps and ramps.
Key Project Features
- Project Status: Built
- Extensive Community Architecture