Shape Architecture was recommended to the client by the contractor with whom we had recently completed the Anthony Roper Early Years building.
The brief called for a striking building that would engage with the local community and through its architecture would be a prominent feature on a busy street. It should incorporate a large activity space with a linked kitchen and servery, and also a second area containing a number of offices and ancillary accommodation.
This division of functions is clearly expressed in the design of the community centre
It is the roof forms that reflect the function of the space below in an efficient manner and so determine the form of the building. Over the large community space a striking roof form starts low at the rear of the hall and rises towards the street.
Set below the roof is a glass facade, and all parts of the composition come together at the outer edge of the building as it faces the street and so clearly advertise its existence and function to all who pass by.
Adjacent to this roof form is the entrance to the building and the circulation route that leads from it. Here, the roof is a gently raking flat roof with a number of rectangular rooflights set within it. To the rear of the hall are the offices and above this sits a second flat roof again with a number of rooflights, circular in this instance, set over each room. Thus the feature roof over the hall is bordered by flat roofs from which it rises to a pinnacle at the street, and this is the clear, simple, and dramatic composition of the Southborough Lane Community Centre.
The main hall is filled with light from the glass facade and also from the many rooflights above. This benefits all users of the space and presents a busy and active facade to the street. The height and drama of the space is accentuated by entering it from the lower volumes that surround it. The building is constructed from a limited & high quality palette of materials which echo its simple composition.
Simple plan with maximum versatility
With the prominent front facade glazed and the side facade being a rendered wall with a number of smaller windows set within it, the two external facades will present a clear and distinctive message to the street. Likewise, internal materials will reflect the simple plan, the various room functions, and the requirement for robustness.