• The Opening of the Colchester Community Centre

    Working as community architects Shape Architecture attended the soft opening of their recently completed community centre in Colchester organised by their Client Level Best. Located in a prominent corner site in the heart of Colchester, the building had undergone various commercial and residential functions over the years and had been poorly developed and added to over time. The vision within the design team was to knock away old structure and create a space that would be inspiring for the trainees and a community hub. Shape Architecture have a wealth of experience in community projects.

    View of Gallery Space Architecture in Art Café Colchester during soft launch

    View of Gallery Space Architecture in Art Café Colchester during soft launch

    Architects in Colchester

    As Architects in Colchester, Shape Architecture simplified the interior to provide ample natural light and interesting architectural features, such as cut-aways on the first floor connecting the upstairs and downstairs and also large vaulted ceiling areas, and a picture frame window and canopy at the gallery entrance.

    The large commercial kitchen was carefully designed for those who previously may have been restricted in using cooking equipment due to disability. The new facilities proving to be life changing for those who are wheelchair bound, especially and allows a greater volume of trainees to learn the practices of a commercial kitchen.

    Light and Open Spaces to Showcase Local Artists in Colchester

    Upstairs, the well-lit art classrooms and double-height spaces were a standout feature and were commended by the large turn-out of people, many of whom could walk around the centre for the first time. During the walk-around, guests were impressed by the colourful artwork on the walls, created by the trainees, complemented by beautiful planting and flowers.

    Interior Architecture: New Café Design

    Shape Architecture undertook an extensive design process at the front of house with a large counter being installed as a prominent feature. This counter serves as the focal point to the café, receiving orders for hot drinks as well as covers for cooked food. The design centres on fair faced plywood slats being fixed in vertical patterning and colourful work-top alongside herringbone flooring giving a modern but fun energy to the café. The counter also has a lit niche at the front which showcases the many jams and condiments made by the charity and are now suitably presented to customers in the café space. The client’s choice of furniture adds to the further colour and fun of the café and offsets the artwork on display.


    Internal view of Front Café and Interior Architecture

    Internal view of Front Café and Interior Architecture in the Colchester Community Centre

    Artistic Architecture

    A further addition was the planting in the café and external spaces, with the flowers provided by Level best, adding further colour. The wall planters helped add a sense of verve alongside the colourful seating and bold art now installed on the walls. The external flower boxes and planter were equally vibrant; the external spaces were especially inviting with café seating, and promised to be especially enjoyable during the summer months as the Abbeygate side of the property experiences good sun in the evening and a level of seclusion not experienced in many neighbouring cafes.


    The opening night was a huge success, with a well-attended promotion that saw trainees serving food to guests as well as music and various speeches by those at Level Best. Manager, Alison Ling’s heartfelt speech was followed by a fun and moving poem by one of the trainees, Mary-Ann Ambrose, expressing the joy that the new space had already brought them and the excitement they had to spend more time at St. John’s Street. The poem was wonderfully received and touched on the energy and enthusiasm felt by the trainees.

    A New Era for the City of Colchester

    “Thank you to all that attended the soft launch event, it was incredible to see so many people supporting Level Best. The opening of our new building marks the start of a brand-new adventure, and we’re incredibly excited to open to the public and start welcoming the people of Colchester. Level Best Enterprises is passionate about providing high-quality training and opportunities which is why our trainees have always been at the heart of what we do. This new building will allow us to provide for more trainees and the whole of Colchester.” – Alison Ling, Manager, Level Best Enterprises


    View of Gallery Space Architecture in Art Café Colchester during soft launch

    View of Gallery Space Architecture in Art Café Colchester during soft launch


    As the night progressed, guests talked excitedly about the various events and activities they were looking forward to attending at the centre. Although the hard launch is yet to come, the building is already operational, and the café is open to the public.

    Overall, the opening night of the Colchester community centre was a true testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in the project. The centre has helped uplift and inspire the local community, and it is set to become a hub for residents thanks to its modern design and vibrant atmosphere and proudly sits within Shape Architecture’s portfolio.

    Photography by douglas photography