... is a design of a new community centre for the borough of Newham. Located in the Royal Docks, the site is placed peculiarly between the historical layer (represented by the neighbouring Millennium Mills) and the new layer (represented by the ExCel on the opposite side).
The complex analysis revealed an intriguing history tied closely to this area. During WWII the area was heavily bombarded during the Blitz on 7 September, 1940. The motive of destruction and bombarding became the main point of interest for the design approach later on in the process.
It was also crucial, however, to set relevant programme for the community centre to retain an economically feasible model. As Newham borough is one of the fastest growing area with simultaneously the youngest population, I decided that the main goal of this building is to present new development in the area to the public and get them involved in shaping the future of the built environment around by hosting discussions, lectures, workshops, screenings etc.
The massing of the building came from a series of relief models. A solid form of the L-shaped building was determined. Working as a barrier, the views of the waterfront are blocked; appearing and disappearing as one walks through.
The monolithic nature of the facade is altered by the design approach. As if a bomb exploded inside, the facade is broken into pieces and partially extruded. By doing so, the building becomes porous. Also new inhibition is established, both in the "holes" between the blocks as well as in front of the building in a modest urban piazza.
In contrast with the massive outer shell, the facade facing the courtyard is much more subtle. Almost fully glazed, it allows simple access from and to most of the spaces. Even the first floor can be directly accessible thanks to the folding landscape, which at the same time frames the view of the water creating a peaceful green oasis.
The journey starts on the corner with almost a sculptural, cave-like entrance luring you in. The foyer is a triple-height space filled with natural light, giving different options where to go. The bombs from the fighter plane naturally guide downstairs to the "black box" museum dedicated to the dark WWII history. Movement is only guided by the points of light from the ceiling, illuminating the exhibition. The movement inside is not directed, allowing people to get submerged in the history. Above the contemporary museum, sits the most generous space - the auditorium. With the natural light from one side and the force of the massive rammed earth wall on the other as well as the double height, this is a truly democratic space where the future of Newham is to be shaped.
PROGRAMME: community centre
SITE: 1200 sqm
STATUS: UEL year 2 project