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FaulknerBrowns wins AJ100 Community Impact of the Year 2022 award

FaulknerBrowns Architects’ Britannia Leisure Centre in Hackney, east London, has won the AJ100 award for Community Impact

‘This building had inclusivity embedded into the design at every step,’ said judges of Britannia Leisure Centre, an 8,068m2 facility for the London Borough of Hackney.

The £42.5 million centre increased visitor usage by 161 per cent over the previous centre without enlarging the building’s footprint. Facilities include two pools and a water play area, a sports hall, squash courts, fitness suite and rooftop sports pitches.

FaulknerBrowns aimed to design a facility that helped remove barriers to participation in leisure activities by being as welcoming and as inclusive as possible. Fifty-nine community consultation events were held to canvass the views of local people, and the architects worked closely with local groups such as the Black Swimming Association and Project Indigo, Hackney’s LGBTQI+ youth group and counselling service. Judges noted how the outcome of this engagement directly fed into the design.

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The inclusive tone is set at the entrance, where the One Hundred Years series of portraits by Jenny Lewis celebrates local people aged 0-100. Particular care was taken over the design of the changing facilities, which include a choice of gendered, individual, and individual non-gendered options after consultation with different user groups. Changing and pool areas can also be screened for privacy when required by particular user-groups. The design was also informed by research carried out by the University of Stirling on designing for the elderly and people with dementia.

Inside, the judges appreciated the many ‘spatially fantastic’ moments and adept use of views, both between different facilities within the building and out over the adjacent Shoreditch Park. The café is positioned so that those using the park can also access refreshment and toilet facilities. Visually dynamic spaces such as the water play area were placed around the perimeter to give glimpses of activities to passers-by.

While applauding the BREEAM ‘Excellent’ leisure centre’s many exemplary qualities and the hugely positive outcome for a diverse user-group, the panel thought the design would have been even better if the building’s form reflected the culturally diverse surrounding community.

Of the other shortlisted entries, judges were particularly impressed with how tp bennett had mobilised its network of suppliers as part of its fit-out of the Driving for Change buses, which provide services for the homeless. They also appreciated the ingenuity of the interior retrofit, which drew on the yacht design experience of one of the design team to maximise the limited available space and challenging ergonomics.

 

Shortlisted

  • Britannia Leisure Centre, Hackney, London, by FaulknerBrowns Architects
  • Driving for Change, by tp bennett
  • Pulteney Mews, Greenwich, London, by shedkm
  • Spencer Mill, Soham, by Purcell
  • YMCA Norfolk Community Hub, Norwich, by LSI Architects

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