Matthew Lloyd Architects has completed a new youth centre in Dalston, Hackney (London) which forms the centrepiece of youth services provision in the area. The new building gives the centre a fresh identity, instantly recognisable within the cityscape, but sitting comfortably within its surroundings.
Extensive glazing is used on the ground floor maintaining an open and active relationship between the street and main common area within the building. In contrast to this sense of transparency, the main double height hall, which sits over the common area, is treated as a strong sculptural element clad in terracotta tiles using four different colours in an abstract pattern. At points the cladding reveals small windows which allow light to penetrate from inside the studio space when it is in use.
Internally, a sense of openness is achieved by the use of an uncomplicated plan arrangement and generous circulation areas at the heart of the building. A simple palette of materials, bold colours and oversized graphics are used throughout. Exposed galvanized services, concrete soffits and a resin floor give the building a robust and semi-industrial feel.
The centre is organised around two external courtyards, one paved and one landscaped, which provide enclosed and protected break-out spaces relating back to the different functions within the building. The ground floor comprises a large ‘chill out’ space with a kitchen, along with a ‘Surf Zone’ for internet use, which is complemented by a ‘Tech Hub’ for more structured IT activities, including music editing.
On the upper levels, a main hall accommodates a wide range of sports, dance, and recreation and includes a full-height climbing wall; there are also rooms for one-to-one sessions, offices for Hackney Youth Services, and a space for smaller group activities connected to an external roof terrace. The centre also provides a base for the Youth Parliament and Youth Volunteering programmes.
The project was undertaken on behalf of Hackney Youth Services, as the result of a successful bid to the MyPlace funding programme