Architecture for Humanity (AfH) London, a charitable organisation concerned with the built environment, has been working closely with the BRC Steering Group since late March 2011 to design the BRC workspace.
At the end of June AfH completed their Stage A-B Feasibility & Briefing Report, which describes the preliminary design investigations and appointments carried out to date, and has been forwarded to the Planning Officer for review.
Highlights of the design process so far have included:
Prior to the appointment of AfH, a Visioning Day was held on 12th March 2011, with the aim to generate the content for a clear and comprehensive brief for potential architects. Attendees included the BRC Steering Group, individuals and organisations interested in being involved with BRC, and Transition Town Brixton supporters, some with architectural, building, recycling, planning or legal expertise.
The discussions established ambitious aims for BRC’s design:
To support the creation of a vibrant collection of successful and sustainable enterprises
To be a key part of the community, both in street presence and reputation
To showcase the re-use process to the benefit of both the public and the enterprises
A first layout option was established which identified the key ingredients of the centre: an arrangement of enterprise spaces, defined as workshops and storage units; delivery and sorting bays with vehicle access at the back end; a shop, office and training/meeting room at the front end.
With the benefit of a few weeks spent gathering imagery and precedents, analysing questionnaire responses, and discussing layout options, a second design workshop was organised by the architectural team on 7th May 2011. This presented a visual and architectural vision for the BRC and generated discussion about use, both spatially and in terms of servicing and management.
The first plan arrangement, as originally sketched out by BRC Steering Group, was presented alongside five different options in order to draw out the benefits and challenges of each. Holding the workshop on site was invaluable to communicate the physical realities of each of the plans.
Following Client discussions, stakeholder consultation and consideration of relevant statutory matters, the plan shown below will form the starting point for continuing design development. The key drivers informing this plan are as follows:
To enforce clear zones with specific boundaries between levels of conditioning, finishes and fire rating.
To provide flexible internal space within those zones by designing open plan shared spaces.
To ensure ease of access to a continuous, well marked fire escape route.
The architectural design of the spaces, furniture and the external street presence is focussed on creating an inspiring place for people to work and visit, and the flexibility to accommodate change and growth.
Together with precedents from comparable projects, these aims have led to a number of particular inspirations which will be explored further in the next stages of the design process, including:
Signage at the entrance to animate the street.
A small cafe furnished by re-built furniture for sale; a cafe show room.
Walls, partitions, curtains which can be moved to create different spaces.
Painted signage and floor markings to bring colour and graphics into the use of the space.
Furniture which can be moved around on wheels.
Moveable ‘pods’ for particular activities.
Stacked shelving and fold-away storage and desk elements
Material selection is a key part of encouraging the ambitions of the BRC to inform the building. It is intended that the re-use of materials which drives the philosophy of Remade in Brixton extends to the design. Re-claimed building materials will be used where possible, both reducing the carbon footprint of the project and allowing the skill and possibilities of re-use enterprise to be showcased in the building fabric.
BRC would like to thank the following volunteers from AfH London for their ongoing commitment and contributions to this project: Isabel Hankart, Taus Larsen, Kirsten Bevin, Cameo Musgrave, Simon Rochowski, Alasdair Dixon & Katherine McNeil. Additionally we would like to thank Peter Boyce and Sam Endsor of Ramboll for their early direction and commitment to the project.